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What to consider for in-vehicle networks and connectivity

Daniel Dubief

Fleet needs include reliable connectivity, telematics & remote management

In-vehicle network connectivity solutions offer a wealth of opportunities for fleet managers. As technologies continue to advance, IT teams are faced not only with the challenge of how best to utilize in-vehicle technology solutions, but also with how to determine which solutions best fit their unique needs.

Selecting in-vehicle network and connectivity solutions requires a multi-step approach.

Consideration #1: Challenges

Organizations looking to launch or expand in-vehicle network solutions should begin with a critical examination of primary challenges. These may include:

Intermittent Connectivity. Intermittent connectivity may be preventing vehicles from connecting to the cloud, processing credit cards or other Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions, tracking a fleet’s location at any time, and even connecting with a traffic signal priority (TSP) radio, which automatically triggers lights to turn green for buses that are behind schedule.

Inaccurate Data. When in-vehicle GPS systems aren’t working, data is both inaccurate and unreliable. Riders utilizing an app that tracks bus locations, for example, will be incorrectly informed about where and when buses will arrive at specific stops.

Technology That Isn’t Future-Proof. In-vehicle network and connectivity solutions that aren’t future-proof will at some point cross the line between being cost-effective to maintain and being too expensive not to upgrade. The best in-vehicle solutions adapt and grow with employee, customer, IT department, and organizational needs.

Security. Any in-vehicle solutions must maintain the highest levels of security, ranging from customer WiFi to PCI compliance for payment processing.

Consideration #2: Physical Conditions

Vehicles located in Florida will have vastly different physical conditions to deal with than vehicles in Alaska. As such, it is important to consider the environment in which an organization’s in-vehicle connectivity will be hosted.

Weather Conditions. From freezing temperatures and ice to high heat and humidity, weather conditions will play a role in how in-vehicle networks function at any given time.

Road Conditions. Vehicles traveling on bumpy, rural roads that are not maintained as well as downtown urban streets will require different features and adaptability from their in-vehicle solutions.

Power Sources. While routers that operate in a traditional office building can simply be plugged into a wall outlet, in-vehicle routers often depend on vehicle batteries for power. Ensuring that in-vehicle solutions don’t compete for power with other onboard systems — or even the vehicle itself — is an important factor.

Consideration #3: In-Vehicle Needs

Each organization will need to determine which specific solutions make the most sense for its specific situation. Solutions can potentially include:

Constant Connectivity. Constant, reliable 4G LTE connectivity is essential for everything from vehicle location tracking to payment processing to passenger WiFi. Constant connectivity also ensures that everyone from bus riders to emergency responders to IT personnel can expect and rely on highly accurate, real-time data.

Mileage Tracking. With robust telematics data gathered from connected vehicles and AVL solutions, vehicle trips and mileage can be tracked. If necessary, managers can develop and implement more efficient routes.

Geofencing. If an in-vehicle GPS system is reliably working and producing accurate data, organizations can not only track where their vehicles are at all times,  but also receive alerts when their vehicles have gone beyond predetermined boundaries.

Cloud Management. Being able to troubleshoot connectivity problems via the cloud rather than going aboard each vehicle can significantly decrease costs, staff time, and customer frustration.

Dual-Modem and Multi-Carrier Options. For organizations that have vehicles in more remote areas, multi-SIM or even dual-modem options for wireless-to-wireless failover are more of a need than a luxury. In such regions, carrier flexibility is essential.

Scalability. IT teams rest better knowing their in-vehicle solutions are scalable, even as technologies and connectivity options rapidly advance. Dual-modem functionality and cloud management are major booms for scalability.

Content Filtering. Many fleets need to filter inappropriate content for passenger WiFi or to prevent downloads and streaming.

Learn More About Enabling Networks On the Move

Explore additional in-vehicle considerations and Cradlepoint’s built-for-purpose solutions in this Networks on the Move white paper.