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Telematics can play a big role in improving safety on roads

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Vishal Agrawal

Imagine a scene in a high-tech action movie, where four friends are travelling in an ultra-modern glitzy car and, unexpectedly, a speeding truck approaches from the other side and collides with the car. The sensors fitted in this car instantly alert the nearest emergency services of the mishap and help approaches in the “nick of time”, saving everyone. Well, this is just a movie scene and there is always scope of alteration. In real life, there is no second chance and if we don’t take necessary precaution, accidents can be fatal and end up in loss of human life. 

Technology can help

Thanks to the rapid growth of technology, “we are in safe hands”. We are gradually moving towards a driving experience which is controlled by telematics and Internet of Things (IoT), making road travel safe and secure. Increased focus on driver safety, reduced cost of connectivity, higher rate of smartphone penetration and stringent automotive safety regulations are key reasons fuelling the market growth of telematics. Telematics is not only improving the quality of lifestyle by adding functionality and value to the auto industry, it has changed the face of motor insurance business. Telematics is turning the traditional auto insurance business model by benefiting both insurers and consumers by providing data for better risk assessment and offering over-the-top incentives. 

India witnesses the highest number of road accidents every year owing to poor infrastructure and precarious environment. Telematics can curb these rising numbers, as real-time data and the insights generated from that data help in making the driver cautious of the situation. Indeed, the use of telematics for just tracking the driver’s location is quite outdated today, because there is so much information that can be extracted and used to provide a safe drive. 

Until now, utilization of telematics has only been restricted to monitoring and detecting performance issues and flaws in the vehicles while meeting the demands of users for wireless connectivity. In the coming years, telematics will play a major role in revolutionizing the auto industry by offering the potential to create a system of intelligent traffic management which will provide live traffic updates, real-time positioning, tracking and parking management, stolen vehicle recovery, electronic toll systems and vehicle diagnostics.

Safety and customer experience do not exist in silos: they are closely related to each other. For instance, India has increasingly seen the growing use of telematics in fleet management, and it has become a core tool in not only amplifying the experience for the traveller but also in providing a respite to fleet owners. At both these ends, it’s the inclusive experience, along with safety, that makes it the most ultimate experience. 

Overall driving experience

Connected vehicles with technologies are redefining the customer experience and IoT is playing a significant role in delivering this customer experience. Data is supporting automakers in delivering a personalized mobile experience to customers. For example, accumulating data like driver profile, journey information, vehicle information and other types of external information builds a knowledge base for personalized apps and services that drives differentiation, brand loyalty and, ultimately, brand advocacy.

Hence, automakers are looking out for innovative ways of delivering the same and ensuring safety all the time. Governments in several countries have been promoting the use of telematics to ensure vehicular safety. 

A safe drive ahead

There is still a lot that we need to facilitate in India in terms of safety and sustainability. More and more auto brands in India should look at partnering with “open-platform telematics providers”.

These platforms can be easily integrated with existing business systems such as customer relationship management, maintenance, or enterprise resource planning software for added value—with the ability to collect data real-time, which can be leveraged for greater productivity, safety and efficiency.

The telematics market in India has experienced low adoption so far because of lack of awareness about the value it provides and its compatibility to adverse road conditions in the country. Safety concerns, too, have been a major bummer. 

With the increasing security concerns, most of the nations are moving to emergency response system models. For instance, the European Union has mandated that all new cars approved to be sold in the region must have the capability to make an automated call to the emergency services in the case of an accident.

They must also have an “Emergency 112” call button that can be pressed manually. It is a great example of a real-world IoT application that combines sensors, communications and data with human interaction to provide a better service.

Specialized technologies such as eCall from Avaya, when triggered, either automatically by a sensor such as the airbag deployment system or manually, allow the vehicle to not only contact emergency services but also send out critical data to them. Avaya is working with France, Portugal and the Netherlands to bring this solution to life. 

India has endlessly spoken about autonomous and connected cars and how technologies like telematics and IoT have brought in more rigour to this space, but the market is still in a nascent stage. An enhanced customer experience coupled with better safety can shift this segment into high gear.

Vishal Agrawal is managing director (India and Saarc) at Avaya Inc.

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