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Insight: Smartphone-based fleet telematics system from GreenRoad set for 2013 launch

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GPS-based telematics is about to go low cost with the launch of a smartphone app. The GreenRoad smartphone edition (code-named ‘Asimov’) will initially be available on Android, with an iPhone edition launching in the first quarter of 2013.

It removes the need to fit hardware and promises to provide the same accuracy of data as any other GPS-based system, but at a fraction of the cost.

GreenRoad is the first telematics provider to offer this service and has done so to capitalise on the growth in smartphone use.

In September, it questioned 170 fleet decision-makers about the use of smartphones in the workplace. Two-thirds reported that most of their managers now carried a smartphone at work, while 61% said most of their drivers had smartphones with them on the job.

Nearly half (43%) of managers use smartphone apps for fleet management activities, including fleet tracking. And 80% of respondents said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ interested in using mobile technology to manage their fleet.

Andy Cozens, senior consultant at GreenRoad, said some customers had already shown interest in the smartphone edition. “Some of the van fleets using our system are interested in switching at renewal time because they already issue drivers with smartphones,” he said.

However, he does not expect all of GreenRoad’s customers to move to the smartphone edition. “There will still be a proportion of clients that want the traditional hardware,” he said.

The smartphone edition is likely to have the strongest appeal with company car fleets.

Cozens pointed out that some fleet managers are deterred from having conventional tele-matics because they have a high churn of company cars and it could prove expensive to fit and remove the hardware.

Using a smartphone also eliminates the problem of telematics hardware being screwed to the dash in high-value company cars.

One of the other barriers to telematics is cost and Cozens believes it may be easier to build the business case with the smartphone edition.

The web application will be free for drivers to download although there will be a charge of up to £12.50 per driver per month for the licence and technical support. Airtime is not part of the package. Cozens estimates it will be 25-40% cheaper than GreenRoad’s standalone telematics hardware, depending on size of fleet and length of contract.

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