IoT in vehicles means different things to different types of organizations — with unique challenges in every use case
Wherever there’s an opportunity to reach more customers through connected vehicles, businesses are capitalizing on it. This has led to tremendous growth in fleets and the technologies that connect them. Allied Market Research predicts the fleet management market, valued at $6.4 billion in 2021, will reach $16 billion by 2031 An uptick at that pace demonstrates just how quickly industries are embracing digital transformation through IoT connected vehicles.
IoT technology using 5G and LTE for vehicles has raised the bar for safety and operational standards across enterprise fleets that want to see their technology investments go further. This presents key opportunities for schools, delivery services, city maintenance, public transportation, and emergency response agencies to stay connected with their staff, riders, and fleets. Let’s explore how.
The evolution of IoT in connected vehicles
IoT connected vehicles didn’t hit the streets overnight. Many companies have cruised the highway of tech adoption for years with automatic vehicle locators (AVLs) or on-board self-diagnostic (OBD) equipment used to monitor the performance of engines, emissions, and driving behavior. Today — in large part due to the advancements in cellular broadband — vehicle-first enterprise businesses have built upon their AVL and OBD foundations to create full-blown mobile offices outfitted with dozens of connected devices from laptops and inventory management systems to fare collection boxes, video cameras, specialized sensors, and much more.
The data collected and transmitted from IoT connected vehicles has the ability to increase vehicle utilization; reduce accidents; lower idle time; and improve the experience and safety of drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Each of these benefits has materialized as a result of IoT and 5G-connected vehicles evolving to answer fleet management questions and address the following challenges across organizations.
Early in-vehicle technology was often limited to GPS and location services. Today, IoT sensors can deliver considerably more detailed vehicle information to fleet operators, as well as trigger alerts in the case of tire pressure drops, coolant temperature changes, and more. This information gives fleet managers time to intervene before a vehicle is out of service.
As the number of IoT devices per vehicle continues to rise, it’s becoming increasingly important to rely on lean IT teams to service in-vehicle wireless routers remotely through a cloud-based platform. 5G vehicle routers enable faster, more secure data transmission while giving IT teams the ability to monitor and manage the routers from anywhere.
Particularly in the case of public safety and services, agencies must have a clear picture of employee activity away from main offices. IoT connected vehicle technology resolves this need. For example, IoT sensors can notify headquarters of the who, when, and where in the event of an emergency key box (Knox Box) opening or trigger video recording when a firearm is pulled from its rack in a police cruiser.
Sensors can also track the routes and job completion of snow plows and sanitation trucks, providing critical data in the event of a civil dispute or grievance.
Staff and rider safety
In case of an emergency — whether that be a child who never made it on to the school bus or a police cruiser missing from its routine patrol — IoT sensors can provide location information for unresponsive units and accountability data at a rate that far surpasses the efficiency of search parties or word-of-mouth reports.
Without a mobile security solution in place, the transfer of patient records, payment data, and other critical information captured through sensors, cameras, and on-board devices can be an enterprise security risk. 5G vehicle routers provide enhanced security with zone-based firewalls and VPNs today while holding the promise of fortified security services such as network slicing In the future.
Keep fueling your interest in IoT for connected vehicles with the Cradlepoint In-Vehicle Buyers’ Guide.
Popular use cases for IoT in vehicles
Although different industries deploy in-vehicle IoT in different ways, organizations across the globe can agree that the proliferation of 5G for vehicles has helped IT teams overcome fleet management challenges and ushered in a new era of reliability, reach, and rapid scale. Common use cases for IoT in vehicles include:
In vehicles, video is primarily used for surveillance and documentation. Similar to cameras on a police cruiser, public buses can have upwards of 15 cameras placed throughout the vehicle for passenger security and crash documentation. Sanitation trucks use cameras to document and verify pickups. 5G and LTE for vehicles enable video footage to be transmitted live or wirelessly offloaded at stations.
Put simply, telematics measure where, when, and how much. On most vehicles, telemetry devices may measure vitals such as time until the next oil change, mileage, battery runtime, or even water pump levels on a fire engine.
Sensors and switches
Sensors and switches are highly customized IoT devices that can trigger automatic responses or collect mission-critical data. For example, a fire engine siren can trigger streetlight controls to expedite response times, an automatic notification can be sent to headquarters when an ambulance’s narcotic cabinet is opened, and a cooling system can turn on when refrigerated cargo falls below a certain temperature. Each of these action-reaction relationships gives operators a clear picture of driver and passenger behavior, allowing them to fine-tune fleet safety and efficiencies and even provide data used when applying for grant opportunities.
Digital signage on public transportation vehicles uses high-bandwidth, low-latency cellular broadband to display up-to-date wayfinding announcements, route changes, or location-based advertisements.
Pinpointing the best IoT solution for vehicles
When deciding what type of solutions and features an enterprise agency needs for IoT connected vehicles, there are a few important questions to consider.
What challenges will a 5G-connected vehicle solve for?
A 5G vehicle router not only opens up access to the 5G network, but also 4G through dual connectivity, providing always-on connectivity for vehicles.
If a fleet needs to be able to maintain connectivity under physical pressures such as extreme weather, shock, vibration, or humidity, a ruggedized router can be installed — even on the roof.
How will information be gathered and managed?
An IoT connected fleet generates a significant amount of diverse, real-time data. If this data isn’t processed or analyzed quickly, it isn’t helpful. To make the most of it, agencies must ensure they have a simple, cloud-based management system to view patterns and performance.
What additional functionality can be automated with the right equipment?
Support for extensibility — such as containers for edge computing or computing directly on the vehicle router — creates opportunities for custom data capture and processing. For example, a custom application can be developed that tracks which roads have been salted when a snowplow is engaged.
Connected vehicle growth is on the move, and the right IoT connected vehicle solution for fleets will make connectivity easy, enable centralized management of operational complexities, and increase competitive edge.