How to select and configure wireless connectivity to meet high-performance requirements
Meeting fleet management objectives with video telematics — improving safety, security, driver support, and insurance-claim accuracy — is critically dependent on reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity
AT A GLANCE: Tapping the full potential of fleet video telematics requires high-performance cellular connectivity. In this brief, we outline best practices to help you select and configure wireless connectivity for success.
The Rise of Video in Fleet Management
The use of video cameras in fleet management has grown substantially over the last few years. With video telematics solutions installed on more than 2 million vehicles worldwide, the safety, security, and cost control benefits they can deliver are well proven. Inward- and outward-facing cameras are helping fleet operators and drivers tighten security and prevent accidents, through 360° external visibility, continuous monitoring of driver behaviour, and the ability to detect driver distractions or drowsiness.
When incidents do occur, immediate upload of relevant video footage is an invaluable resource for emergency response, timely first notice of loss, clear fault resolution, logistics operations recovery planning and coordination, and driver training. In addition to the direct operational benefits, this growth has also been driven by new regional regulatory requirements now in force (such as the Direct Vision Standard in the UK) or on the near-term horizon.
These fleet video applications are supported by a thriving set of solution providers, offering a broad variety of well-evolved camera designs and software solutions, including reliable AI/ML-driven continuous identification and analysis of driver behaviours, surrounding vehicles, and road features.
In addition to superb cameras and advanced application software, tapping the full potential of fleet video telematics requires one more very critical component: high-performance cellular connectivity. As any experienced IoT solution developer will attest, this is a nontrivial requirement to fulfill. Our purpose here is to expand on the definition of that high-performance requirement, in the fleet video telematics context, and offer key lessons learned from our long experience in meeting it.
The Keys to Success
For fleet video telematics, cellular connectivity must meet a number of critical application-specific requirements:
- Consistent, reliable coverage, to ensure operational benefits can be achieved throughout the driver’s journey.
- Affordable high throughput, to support bandwidth requirements much higher than normal vehicle telematics without breaking the business case for the solution — in other words, high data rates at low cost.
- Careful device configuration to ensure close coordination with the radio access network, to minimize latency in video upload — essential for time-critical insurance first notice of loss, emergency treatment, law enforcement response, and operational recovery.
- Flexible, easily customizable core and data transport network configuration, to enable video-specific QoS treatment and media segregation in the cloud.
- Redundant & load balanced data paths between the cellular service provider and the customer’s data centers to provide reliability and reduce delay.
- Secure end-to-end communication with cloud endpoint control (restricting the IP addresses with which on-board cameras and devices can communicate) and minimized additional bandwidth consumption for security overhead.
- Itemized billing where cost incurred per SIM can be accurately reported and, where necessary, charged back to the end user.
Success in fleet video also involves meeting requirements that are essential for any IoT application that relies on cellular connectivity:
- Readily-available best practices documentation and experienced technical experts to optimize overall solution architecture for maximum success — which, given the inherent complexity of cellular networks, is a decidedly nontrivial task for anyone without deep experience in the domain.
- Pooled charging models, to minimize costs.
- Full end-to-end visibility into solution communication behaviors, from the device and its context through the cellular radio network, the mobile core, IP transit, and into the application service provider’s cloud — to validate correct device behavior and communication endpoints at the outset and over time.
- Programmatic, near-real-time access to smart reporting on end-to-end performance metrics to catch suspected anomalies quickly.
- Rapid, expert organization response to isolate root causes and help resolve issues when they occur, anywhere across the complete end-to-end solution.
Our Lessons Learned in Fleet
We at Aeris are deeply involved in the fleet telematics segment — the 2.1 million commercial vehicles to which we provide fleet management connectivity represent 15% of our 14-million-device customer base. Our approach to service in this segment is informed by 2 decades of experience.
We’ve learned lessons over the years that are critical to keep in mind as you design the connectivity element of your fleet video telematics solution:
Compared to simple mass-market consumer cellular devices and apps, complex enterprise IoT solutions are inherently more prone to issues, because of the greater number of software layers and sources involved in the end-to-end solution.
Experience shows the issues that have the most frequent, high impact are rooted in the device at the edge and the application cloud (see figure).
You must have clear visibility and control all the way down to the end device, remotely, since on-site repair is prohibitively costly.