Today’s generation may never fully understand the concept of getting lost as anyone who owns a Smartphone enjoys the luxury of having free, in-built Sat Nav apps, such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze. Yet what we all take for granted as the entitlement of today was actually borne out of a very real necessity.
Introduced by the U.S Department of Defense during the Cold War, GPS technologies – designed for navigation and positioning – revolutionised both military and technology applications by using the satellite network in cohesion with ground communication. By 1968, ‘Machine to Machine’, or M2M, was conceptualised by Greek inventor and scientist, Theodore G. Paraskevakos, while he was working on Caller ID technology, yet it was not until 1978 that ‘Telematics’, as a term, was coined, by a technology development report to the French prime minister.
It was all systems go from here. Picking up where GPS left off with the ability to analyse and use information, as well as communicate with parties outside of the vehicle, and with the aim of enhancing road safety and reducing negative environmental effects, major European Economic Countries (EEC) research programs were launched to experiment the use of vehicle telematics in 1988. By 1993, GPS technologies finally reached the consumer market as a European treaty was signed to enable more research and development into telematics to fulfil a vision of a more efficient and safer Europe and by the mid-2000s, the consumer market was flooded with vehicle navigation systems while advancements in cloud and M2M technologies enabled super-fast and precise tracking of other data, such as customer delivery information and driver behaviour. Fast-forward to where we are today, where there exists an unprecedented innovation in M2M and Internet of Things (IoT).
It may be no wonder, therefore, that telematics has also become so important to insurance providers, and increasing numbers of people are switching over to black box insurance, which calculates premiums based on driver behaviour, such as propensity to speeding and miles driven. No longer must insurance be based on factors such as gender, postcode and vehicle as research by price comparison site uSwitch has found that over 56% of us are considering a black box policy and a 66% increase in the sale of telematics policies since 2015 when car insurance premiums rose on average by 20% – fuelled, in part, by the government’s tax increase. A far cry from the mid-1990s when a couple of insurers carried out small-scale pilots which gave drivers the chance to prove they were low risk!
An indispensable tool, telematics has come a long way from its grandiose military inception in saving lives to its growing capabilities on a large-scale civilian reach, helping save fuel, deliver faster and more accurate vehicle services and increase revenue streams. Yet it still has more of its journey to complete. New features are being added all the time as drivers are increasingly realising the benefits it offers and we will soon be witnessing increased personalisation, greater interactivity, enhanced connectivity between in-car users and greater openness. In real terms, this means commercial fleets will benefit from better, faster and more relevant data, together with video information from their vehicles, providing even greater operational awareness leading to more cost-effective operation.
However you choose to use it, it is clear that telematics is the key to success in today’s ever-connected era.