The evolution of in-cab GPS for white van drivers

2 December, 2016

We’re so accustomed to having location and navigation tools at our finger tips, it’s perhaps hard to believe that GPS only began to be fully adopted in consumer and fleet vehicles around eight years ago. Since then, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way devices are sold and the data used to power them. With telematics software in particular, GPS-led vehicle tracking has given way to smart, intuitive and comprehensive intelligence platforms, based on insights from the extensive data sets that GPS has produced. And almost without exception, this is leading in-built telematics and all-inclusive intelligence platforms to replace the traditional devices that van drivers previously used.

So how did the GPS landscape change after the boom, what effect did this have on fleets and what does this change in telematics look like?

The changing consumer landscape

From the high point of portable navigation devices (PNDs) after the boom, the popularity of devices led to increased competition within the sector, driving down costs as new players began to enter the market. Through this shift, the emphasis on development first transferred to OEM partnerships in consumer vehicles and in the last few years has focused on the development of apps. The scale of change has been so significant that many major brands previously synonymous with PNDs have had to branch out into cameras and even watches, while other competitors have opted to pursue investment in and the development of new, cutting-edge navigation technologies.

What does this mean for fleets?

This fundamental shift has been mirrored within fleets, but in a distinctly different manner. While for consumer GPS technologies, the change has come in how the data is presented, in fleets, the very source of the data is changing. Whereas fleet navigation information was previously based solely on satellite-based, global positioning information, and provided little driver-specific information, it is now becoming more social and personnel-led thanks to telematics. In other words, it is increasingly supplemented and influenced by real-time feedback from drivers on the road, and telematics information live from fleets. With Telogis, real-time performance data is streamed from each van, which enables fleet managers to track its location, fuel consumption and driver behaviour, as well as monitor for any safety and maintenance alerts. Much of this data is based on driver behaviours, with many metrics designed to encourage safe driving habits (and highlight bad ones). These include features such as driver behaviour scorecards and optional in-cab alerts that provide an audible alert when a driver is speeding, braking too hard or accelerating too vigorously. Telematics supports the process by transmitting vehicle data from the van to a dedicated Telogis website via an embedded cellular connection, allowing location data from a GPS module to be directly enhanced with information sourced directly from the van’s electronic systems.

The Future of GPS

GPS has changed dramatically over the last decade, so what does the future hold? Will it be social? To continually drive efficiencies and keep the edge against your competition, you need real-time data and you need it in the hands of drivers. With this in mind, gamification will undoubtedly add a social aspect to the future of GPS, revolutionising the role of the white van man by pitting drivers’ performance against each other, and doing more than just rewarding conscientious driving through one-dimensional initiatives, Telogis developed a driver feedback mobile application for Android and iOS, Telogis Coach, which uses real-time intelligence to empower those behind the wheel. There’s a growing trend to put the onus on the drivers themselves to self-assess and self-correct dangerous behaviour, and Telogis enables them to take responsibility for managing their own safety out on the road.

Given that the majority of telematics platforms now offer a plug-and-play approach, it’s fair to say that the role of in-cab GPS has fundamentally changed for the white van driver. And this change is set to continue as telematics becomes universally adopted, with many fleet managers imploring their van drivers to improve their driving based on key performance insights. With the development of autonomous vehicles already at an advanced stage, the way in which fleets navigate the roads will continue to develop apace. This might change the traditional role of the white van driver. But as the last ten years have shown, their role and interaction with technology will surely continue to adapt to the times.