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Friday , 24 March 2023

Vehicle Telematics

Best Practices

‘To err is human, to forgive is Divine’ is not at all acceptable in the security or service industry. The security industry is paid to protect, secure and deliver. There is no place for gaps or lapses at all.

While there is no specific data available on the date the first bank or cash van was looted, it would date back to the period when the first bank started operations. It would be equally applicable to other areas of crime and activities affected by it. It has been a long journey from stage coaches to cash vans, swords to automatic weapons and ‘out riders’ as escorts with stage coaches to the present days with radio communication for early warning, armoured vans with GPS tracking and vehicle immobilisers. Security and banking related services should be always under an error-proof secure environment. This is a compelling reasons to adopt technology, overcome human errors and enhance remote monitoring capabilities.

Technology has been meaningfully adopted to overcome gaps, reduce human errors and weaknesses to rule out possibility of judgemental error. However it comes at a cost or you pay a price for the lack of it .

The Security and Service industries handle various activities which have different parameters but could still be using the same applications for achieving their own specific purposes and targets. It was in early 2000 when technologies for vehicle tracking and related to vehicle management were being inducted and adopted in India by service providers. Agencies moving perishable items were concerned with tracking for on-time delivery, oil tanker fleets were monitoring stoppages en-route, while banking industry was concerned that cash vans were moving along designated routes with their predestined halts for offloading at the correct times. There was a paradigm shift with the end users with technocrats customising their products, using new technology to meet specific requirements of variety of customers.

Technology was always available in varying stages as per time period and grew to meet with the customers’ requirements addressing their concerns. Due to rapid developments old technology goes obsolete as well as rendering redundant the base equipment and hardware. For example, the earlier tracking through GPRS could be very misleading at times if the distant tower was not in line of sight, thus reducing its credibility. Further, the lack of digital maps made the task even more complicated in matching coordinates on ground. An ad-hoc ‘track’ plotted by sitting with a lap top in a moving vehicle on main and major routes with prominent landmarks for reference were the only maps to depend upon. The GPS locations were approximations, mostly with a range of accuracy of +/- 100m. It was something, better than nothing. It served a purpose to an extent but was not a solution at all one could depend upon to mitigate risks of operations.

Then came the vehicle management add ons which were like attractive offers. Parameters such as fuel intake, kilometre record, braking record, oil levels, door sensors and remote immobilisers were more ornamental for many reasons. Absence of a reliable 2-way communication was a factor due to which facts could not be ascertained to help take decisions. This in turn caused reluctance to use the remote immobilisers. Kilometre record was duplication of the vehicle metre itself. Speed record though had proven worthwhile in many cases of accidents and recording the average time taken route wise was also meaningful for planning.

A major hurdle all through was the lack of connectivity using the SIM card. It remains an issue even now. Not much has changed till date in this regard. Especially when traversing on highways – inter-city or inter-state, one runs through dead zones or pockets. The mobile service providers install towers to cater for their customer base but the area covered is limited. In high value cash movements over long distance which need to be tracked constantly, this is a major issue and even geo fencing fails here.

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