Something unexpected began happening in journalist Mike Esposito’s inbox. Extra emails were demanding his attention, but they weren’t written by people. His newly leased car was reminding him about its upkeep.
Esposito, who writes for Auto DeaIer Today, noted that among other matters, his vehicle “tells me when I’m low on fuel, when the tire pressure drops and what the outside temperature is.”
Like cars in many government fleets, Esposito’s car is “smart” due to Internet connectivity. It contains telematics–devices including a global positioning system (GPS)–that are part of the car’s operating system. Telematics are also part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Connected fleet ecosystem
These days, IoT objects containing sensors often connect vehicles to the Internet and, in the case of fleets, to each other.
Esposito’s car can send him notes, because telematics let one machine (the car) share information with another machine (his computer).
Machine-to-machine communication is one part of an ecosystem with the Internet at its centre. The sensors in vehicles with telematics also can connect to parts of their environment–including roadway warning systems–which also contain IoT sensors.
Connected cars produce much data, including information about how carefully people drive them. A privately owned connected car might send this data to an insurance company, which would use it to adjust driver rates.
In contrast, data from public sector fleets would travel to the digital systems of the municipalities, central governments or authorities (such as ports) they serve. This information would include availability for use and maintenance issues in addition to driver care.
Many kinds of vehicles may be included in public sector fleets, including boats, grounds maintenance equipment, motorbikes, trucks, UAVs (drones), and warehouse forklifts.
Connecting fleets to correct problems
Retrofitting vehicles for connectivity or buying new vehicles with factory-installed telematics is expensive. But fleet connectivity provides payback in a number of ways. To understand why organisations would develop these fleets, it helps to consider some actual examples.
Traffic congestion in a mountain resort. Mountain sports, glamorous celebrity lifestyles, and fresh air are among the attractions of Aspen, Colorado. But the city is so popular that it is choking on auto traffic from commuters, residents, and tourists.
Government Fleet magazine reports that Aspen is considering a plan to create a quiet, low-pollution transit system. It would be a connected fleet of mopeds, on-demand shuttles, buses and self-driving mini-vans. The plan also includes improving traffic flow on downtown streets and providing lockers for commuters.
School bus delays. The Chesapeake, Virginia, public school district received many complaints about bus inefficiency in the 2015-2016 school year. Local TV station WAVY reports that the district is responding by equipping each school bus with a GPS and automatic vehicle location system.
Smartport. Truck drivers traveling to the Port of Hamburg in northern Germany no longer have to access many message boards throughout the container port to get updated on traffic and bridge conditions as well as parking availability.
According to tech publisher ZDNet, the port now connects truckers to get current information through a mobile app made possible by a digital platform.
The platform, which is equipped with IoT-solution software, gathers and analyzes huge volumes of data. The IoT software connects to the port’s traffic management system as well as the telematics of trucks visiting the port. This provides a real-time picture of traffic flow.
IoT traffic tracking solutions
IoT software solutions for connected fleets provide government organizations with insights into fleet management, logistics and delivery, insurance telematics (such as monitoring driver-related events), and vehicle diagnostics.
Fleet management solutions include tracking vehicles in real time, monitoring the health of vehicles, and analysing fuel consumption.
Diagnostics involve analysing trouble codes, providing alerts based on vehicle events, and predicting driving performance. One of the logistics matters that solutions analyze concerns arrival times and routing.
IoT solutions help the public sector increase productivity without increasing facilities. ZDNet notes that container turnover at the Port of Hamburg was nine million units in 2014 and likely will double by 2024.
Speaking to the magazine, Hamburg Port Authority representative Sascha Westermann said, “It’s not possible to build more roads. It takes a long time and there’s no space.”
Westermann, who leads IT traffic management for the authority, told ZDNet, “We need smart solutions. IT solutions.”
Year of the connected fleet?
Automobile technology reporter Mike Esposito says he thinks 2017 finally marks the “official arrival” of connected cars. It’s estimated, he says, that 60% to 80% of the cars in which manufacturers have installed telematics will sell this year.
Esposito predicts that “smaller, less expensive cars” will comprise 75% of connected car sales by 2022.
As prices decrease, it’s likely that more public-sector fleets will become connected. The year of the connected fleet is coming soon.
To learn more about SAP Leonardo and our digital innovations, download the “IoT Imperative white paper for the public sector.”
This article originally appeared on Cities Today.