Vehicle telemetry multinational Tracker is investing in a range of research and development projects, which will provide significant insights and value for a broad range of stakeholders. The projects leverage the large volumes of data and many data streams that Tracker has access to, says Tracker Business Intelligence Competency Centre GM Wikus Combrinck.
The company currently records more than 40-million sensor messages daily in its database – called transactions – from the more than one-million individual and commercial vehicles that it tracks. The Tracker big data systems mean that each vehicle becomes a mobile sensors array.
“We have lots of interesting things we can do with this data and we are putting more intelligence into our systems, such as machine-learning, that will extract these valuable insights in near real-time to further empower drivers and fleet managers,” Combrinck says.
For example, the company is providing valuable insights for insurers around driver behaviour, in which the insurance client gives consent to use behaviour as an insurance metric and then benefits from a lower premium, if the client drives cautiously. Tracker also provides a collision detection service for insurers, which automatically alerts an emergency call centre to an accident with the precise location of the vehicle.
Tracker has also partnered with a local university to develop a patented system that can be used to track the average bumpiness of a road, and Tracker will soon make this insight available to clients for route planning purposes.
“The Tracker Road Condition Service will improve road safety for all road users. This service will not only inform customers about the condition of a specific road, but also warn customers timeously about potential road hazards like potholes and other road anomalies. “Tracker will use this information to enhance its route planning feature,” says Tracker South Africa product innovation and Marketing executive Michael du Preez.
“Effectively leveraging big data also has value for industries beyond the firm’s traditional market segments, like health providers, retail and even the tourism industry. “Tracker has more than 1.2-million registered points of interest in South Africa, which are of value to the tourism industry,” says Combrinck.
Some of the new trends in the logistics and freight industries are also underpinned by big data and tracking systems. One such concept, called ‘Über freight’, is a mobile cloud platform for truck drivers to exchange routes with other drivers, enabling them to be near their families more often. Such big data systems will play an increasingly important role in enhancing the customer experience in a broad range of industries, he emphasises.
Tracker realises the future lies in the data it gathers and the insights it can gain from the data. For this reason, in partnership with Microsoft, it is sponsoring the training of four local data science students. The firm is also sponsoring an additional five data science students on a degree course through the Sol Plaatjie University, in the Western Cape.
Tracker is further participating in a Square Kilometre Array big data initiative, which is part of a global radio astronomy initiative.