By Aaron Huff
“Staying connected” is more than a modern convenience; it is a way of life, a habit, an expectation for people that own smartphones and tablet devices.
In the transportation industry, connectivity has traditionally been extended to drivers for business purposes only. Commercial and private fleets would install onboard computing and mobile communication systems to track location, send and receive messages, and capture performance and maintenance information from vehicles.
Today, the possibilities for drivers to stay connected while on the road are virtually unlimited for business and personal convenience.
For drivers, staying connected is easy since they are the ones who decide how, when and where to use personal devices. From a fleet management perspective, connectivity is a more complicated equation.
“In the commercial space many new issues come into play like security, compensation, personal versus consumer devices, support and reliability of dealing with many devices,” says Eric Witty, vice president of product management for Cadec, which provides the PowerVue mobile fleet management system. “Fleets and vendors seem to be working through these issues to find the right solutions.”
Fleet applications are designed to keep drivers connected for safety, compliance and productivity. Electronic logbooks, workflow and turn-by-turn navigation are a few of the applications suited for this purpose. Electronic toll and bypass systems also communicate with devices in vehicles to keep the wheels rolling safely and efficiently.
When the wheels stop, drivers turn to personal devices to stay connected to family and friends through social media, to entertainment, and to many business apps and websites to plan their route and track expenses. In the near future, drivers will be using apps to reserve parking spots, to check wait times for shower facilities at truck stops, and many more job-related conveniences.
Commercial platforms are quickly moving in the same direction. The photo gallery at the top shows how some of the latest platforms keep drivers connected to the corporate enterprise while safely crossing over to the consumer side to improve the user experience.