Driver Data: Advances in Innovative Exchange

With an innovation worthy of the digital age, the field of vehicle telematics is bringing auto manufacturers and insurance companies into sharper alignment. Now, data recorded in an individual vehicle can be “crunched” to yield insightstelematics about driving behavior—insights that can shed light on a driver’s risk category. In a further innovation, 2016 brought the establishment of a telematics data exchange, enabling risk managers to make use of this data with the consent of drivers.

Telematics data can potentially benefit consumers, fleet owners and insurers. Instead of insurers generally relying on a driver’s general information—age or gender, for example—policies can be written to address specific levels of risk supported by actual driving data (speed, acceleration, braking and time of operation). So the elements are falling into place to tap telematics-derived data, with potential for also attaining higher fuel efficiency and better fleet vehicle performance.

How do consumers and fleet owners benefit?

  • Rewards: Discounted insurance for drivers who have fewer risks or lower annual miles
  • Ease: Greater convenience, flexibility, and portability when shopping for auto insurance
  • Safety: Promotion of good driving habits
  • Savings: Insurers’ enhanced ability to segment risk types, potentially lowering premium costs for commercial fleet owners and managers

History of an idea

The seed for telematics was planted in the early 1960s, during a period when tensions between the United States and the former Soviet Union were escalating. That is also when the U.S. government, intent on national security and concerned about a potential nuclear threat, funded development of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Initially, GPS was intended for military and intelligence applications. By the early 2000s, telematics technologies were used in web-based fleet management systems that featured real-time information updates to remote networks. At that time, slow tracking rates limited data transmissions to one or two instances per hour. It wasn’t long, however, before GPS-based vehicle navigation systems flooded the consumer market.

Aligning value

In recent years, telematics has brought auto manufacturers and insurers into alignment, with both industries recognizing the potential of telematics. Automakers have found value in using telematics data to communicate information to car owners about their vehicle’s maintenance needs and performance and to convey information to consumers about their driving behavior, which could lead to safer driving. In turn, safer driving—such as fewer sharp turns and hard-braking incidents—could positively affect vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. And insurers have found a means to help better define risks.

Automakers also recognized that better fuel efficiency and less wear and tear (requiring less maintenance) could potentially save money for consumers, thereby reducing the total cost of car ownership.

Many insurers, too, quickly saw the inherent value of telematics data. Traditionally, insurers rate consumers on various factors that typically include proxy data to predict an individual’s risk level, which helps determine rates. Some consumers may complain that not enough insight goes into the rating process. Yet telematics data, applied through usage-based insurance (UBI) programs, allows insurers to consider details of individual driving behavior—which might lead to more accurate and customized pricing. Insurance rating could become more focused on individual behavior and performance. Insurers understand that a benefit of using telematics data as part of their underwriting practices can include the consumer’s perception that carriers are operating with greater transparency—and potentially give consumers greater understanding of their auto insurance expenses.

Consumers could now examine their own driving data—and likely this data overlapped with the data their insurance company reviewed when establishing their rate in the first place.

Great leap forward

For some time, we’ve said that a telematics data exchange might represent the future of usage-based insurance. That future isn’t far away. Consider this: It is estimated that by 2020, more than 90% of all new vehicles sold in the United States will be able to connect to the internet. Today, about 5% of vehicles are so equipped. That is a powerful leap forward in terms of the data that will be available from connected cars.

This gives auto-makers the potential to capitalize on vast amounts of data collected by the connected cars they sell. Insurers can benefit by potentially enhancing their efforts to acquire and retain safer drivers and monitor their policyholders’ driving behavior and vehicle mileage.

There can be corresponding challenges related to such connected vehicle data, however. The volume of data from connected cars is enormous and growing. The hardware, software, and carrying costs needed to store and manage that data can run into the millions of dollars—a cost many insurers may find onerous. Automakers face their own set of issues, chief among them being the “many-to-many” problem: how to connect with hundreds of insurers that might be interested in accessing their data. While those are just a few of the multiple hurdles to overcome when harvesting exponentially growing stores of data, these are challenges that a telematics data exchange can help address. That is why the launch of the first data exchange marks such a critical milestone in the history of telematics.

Security Technology: Reducing Risk for Law Enforcement

 

Nowhere is the work environment more unpredictable than on the front line. Front line employees, whether they work in customer service or high-level security, are constantly exposed to the biggest element of risk—the human element. Working in the field exposes employees to a variety of unpredictable factors, interacting with the public and operating in different environments, making it difficult to predict risks and properly protect employees from external threats.

This is particularly true in law enforcement and security industries, with “police officer” being named as one of America’s most dangerous jobs. It’s no wonder organizations (both public and private sector) are looking for solutions, especially when considering what is at risk. Obviously, employee safety is of paramount concern to any organization and should always be top priority, but there are other elements to consider. Attacks on employees or property can result in huge legal costs, and without physical evidence, it can be hard to recoup this loss. Businesses must also consider the risk to their public image.

To help fight crime and reduce the risks to their front line workers, many government law enforcement agencies and private security organizations are using technology solutions. These solutions, such as advanced security recordings and tracking devices, can act as deterrents. While providing law enforcement officers with more protection, they also help collect irrefutable evidence to protect the company from a legal perspective.

Personal security cameras

These personal security cameras have been adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies around the world, including the City of Clare Police Department in Michigan. The body-worn cameras are attached to the police officer’s uniform—recording footage and displaying a live feed on their front-facing screen. This works in two ways, by providing reliable video evidence from the officer’s perspective of the crime scene and also acting as a deterrent. This approach of alerting members of the public to the fact that they’re being recorded has been shown to reduce the occurrence of criminal activity.

GPS

While GPS systems have existed for a long time, more and more law enforcement agencies are taking full advantage of their benefits—particularly when it comes to pursuing vehicles. Tested with police departments in Arizona and Florida, GPS ‘darts’ are currently in development to reduce the risk to police officers and the general public posed by high speed traffic pursuits. The darts are fired using compressed air and discreetly attach to the vehicle being chased. This means the officer in pursuit can track the vehicle remotely, without the need to initiate a chase at dangerous speeds.

Drones

Perhaps the most controversial of these technologies, drone surveillance has been a hot topic in recent news. While opposition to their use is primarily in relation to privacy or military usage, for law enforcement they provide an affordable and convenient alternative to police helicopters. These small portable flying police drones are equipped with HD surveillance cameras, providing a birds-eye view of crime scenes or events. This live video feed can be monitored and recorded remotely, allowing officers to survey any danger in the area before making a physical appearance. Like body worn cameras, the video footage can also serve as valuable evidence in court. The future of drone technologies being adopted by police departments remains up in the air, however, as some public opposition looks to restrict their usage.

Gunshot detection

Possibly the most innovative of these technologies, gunfire locators or gunshot detection systems have proven to be extremely valuable in protecting front line workers and increasing response time in high gun crime areas. Already used in many cities throughout the United States, these systems use numerous super sensitive microphones (dispersed through a geographic area and connected to a central processor) to immediately alert police to the exact location, and even direction, of gunshots fired in the area.

While some of these technologies have yet to reach their potential, their benefits suggest it won’t be long before they’re fully integrated into police and security industries—and seeing widespread use around the world. While tracking devices and security cameras are nothing new, their improvement and innovative applications in recent years have made them invaluable. From collecting evidence to improving safety for front line workers, these high-tech security solutions effectively reduce risks faced by organizations operating in the sector.