IoT is transforming the mobility space

Issue 7 2020 Asset Management, EAS, RFID

Technology is no longer a grudge purchase, but an indispensable part of modern business, say Francois Stols, chief technology officer, and Lindile Xoko, executive: sales at Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron. Nowhere is this more true than in the mobility and transport sector.

South Africa’s economy is easing back towards levels of activity last seen before the COVID-19 lockdown. Logistics fleets are returning to full capacity, and private travel is now similarly back to previous levels.

The reason we can confidently make this assertion is the vast amounts of data now available to us about movement on South African roads. As an operator in the vehicle recovery and fleet management space, we have access to this data.

This data informs pivotal strategic decisions, it drives business planning, efficiency enhancements, and life-and-death safety initiatives. The source of this vast ocean of information is that popular buzzword: the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT technology has been around for decades – even if its name is more recent. Tracking and monitoring devices have long been in use, employing radio and satellite methodology, and later 3G and LTE platforms.

The move towards the mass, high-speed connectivity promised by 5G mobile broadband promises to take the industry to a new level of insight, providing critical data that vastly improves customer services, safety, and profitability.

No longer are IoT insights a nice-to-have capability, or simply a security concern. They are vital. No business operating in the mobility space can afford to ignore the value of IoT.

IoT finds application in several aspects of modern business. In public transport, for instance, camera technology is now used to monitor driver behaviour as well as social distancing and safety compliance. Newer-generation cameras are capable of image recognition, customer counts and even remote infrared body temperature screening.

Initially, short-range RF technology simply told customers the location of their vehicles. As the technology progressed, we were able to gather more information through GPS trackers, cameras and ever more precise sensors.

Today, companies can assess and modify driving behaviour. This has opened up opportunities for consumers as well as insurers and vehicle finance companies. They can now offer personalised premiums and encourage efficient, safe driving that benefits drivers, businesses and society at large.

We have seen our offering evolve from tracking to connectivity and data management. Technology also now lets us give clients access to data platforms and dashboards where they can manage and customise their own track-and-trace service.

Clients can also now take ownership of their own security, setting geofencing and alert parameters for their vehicles and family members. Commercial transport firms can set up automated logbooks, panic buttons and driver alerts. In the consumer space, the next step of technological evolution is the understanding of the car as a permanently connected information and entertainment hub.

When the connected car can guarantee broadband access, the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. We can now move seamlessly between our home, vehicle and office environments while remaining connected throughout. This is the dawn of the Connected Life.

Thanks to IoT, this state of continual connectivity generates constant, exponentially growing amounts of data. The challenge, and the true differentiator in an IoT space where equipment is largely commoditised, is how to use and interpret that information.

Data enrichment is the new frontier. A company such as ours has moved from simple vehicle tracking, into the big data space. We have built our own big data platform, in partnership with Stellenbosch University, which we launched about two years ago. The platform currently processes around 300 million data points per day.

Big data platforms allow for the provision of data-centric services such as predictive models. For instance, insurance companies can now use drivers’ unique biometric data sets to identify when performance is impaired due to fatigue or alcohol. In this way, IoT enables the evolution from accident reconstruction to accident prevention, using the power of data. As far as claims validation goes, data analysis powered by artificial intelligence can make this an almost instantaneous process.

Another trend we are seeing is OEMs entering the data and connectivity space. While this transition has not yet reached its ultimate form, based on our global partnerships with Toyota, we anticipate carmakers taking ownership of engine- and vehicle-centric information and its connectivity.

Supplementary services, such as theft recovery and jamming detection, will likely be provided by local suppliers. With the rise of the connected vehicle, infotainment will become another differentiator, and possibly another income stream for OEMs, or third-party suppliers.

The final stage of this data-centric move to connected mobility may be the establishment of a single, interoperable data platform, shared by cars, infrastructure, service providers and governments. Until such a scenario arrives, we will see connectivity gradually gaining in significance as the key enabler of movement.

It must not be overlooked that these oceans of data that our mobility now generates come with significant security risks. Cybersecurity is now a mobility issue, and we’ll need to keep building technologies and policies to protect our customers and their data. The key is proactive threat management, using artificial intelligence to proactively anticipate and manage such threats on a dedicated cybersecurity platform.

IoT is the technology that has transformed modern business. That transformation is taking place in several spaces at once – safety, mobility, accessibility, sustainability, cost control, operations, information and analytics. Each of these areas offers opportunities for organisations able to build proficiencies themselves, or to build partnerships to provide such services. In an emerging platform economy, where data is ubiquitous, the organisations with the platforms to deliver services using that data will dominate.

Technology is no longer a differentiator, but an enabler. It enables the objectives and strategies of organisations, so they can serve their customers and be competitive. As such, it is indispensable. IoT, overlaid with AI, is no longer a grudge purchase. It’s essential.

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Are all safes fire-resistant?
Gunnebo Africa Asset Management, EAS, RFID
A burglary safe is not guaranteed to protect against damage from heat and fire. A fire safe is a silent insurance policy. It’s all about worst case scenario planning.

AI for advanced fleet management
Asset Management, EAS, RFID
Choosing to use a smart device such as a tracker that utilises artificial intelligence-based software offers a fleet owner seamless control of their business.

Collision avoidance technology for mines
Asset Management, EAS, RFID
Hexagon’s Mining division announced that it has introduced a significantly improved version of its collision avoidance system, consolidating technology into just two hardware components: a smart antenna and a five-inch LCD display.

Time-carding traffic
Asset Management, EAS, RFID
The Econz Timecard solution provides data such as time arrived and departed, GPS location and a breadcrumb trail, all captured in a web-based system.

Technology can reduce SA’s road fatalities
Asset Management, EAS, RFID
A recent study conducted by Zutobi ranked South Africa as the world’s most dangerous country to drive in, with 1685 recorded fatalities over the December 2021 holiday period.

Identity on the edge
IDEMIA Access Control & Identity Management Asset Management, EAS, RFID Government and Parastatal (Industry)
IDEMIA discusses mobile identities in this shortened white paper on protecting customers, companies and governments with privacy-first Mobile ID (see link at the end for the full paper).

IP-based emergency solution for stadium
Bosch Building Technologies Asset Management, EAS, RFID Integrated Solutions
Bosch provides fully IP-based emergency solution at Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park to keep fans safe at English Football League stadium.

Scanning for gold
Saflec Asset Management, EAS, RFID Products
The metal detection market is such that customers looking for a specific point solution are becoming a rarity and the primary desire is for a solution.

Security enhances entertainment
ZKTeco Entertainment and Hospitality (Industry) Asset Management, EAS, RFID Products
It is of utmost importance that the entertainment sector ensures the best possible security measures for visitors to enjoy the premises in comfort and safety.

AI and telematics can improve driving behaviour
Transport (Industry) Asset Management, EAS, RFID
Fleet operators and drivers need to monitor driving behaviour and ensure drivers have access to adequate training programmes and tools that can provide feedback on the road.