Mobile Telematics Top 5 Data Collection Advantages and Challenges

Picking the right data collection technology for your telematics program can be an overwhelming task, but there are simple ways to narrow down your options. Start by evaluating these top 5 mobile data collection advantages and challenges.

Smartphone popularity as a tool for telematics data collection stems from the flexibility of these devices, which are well suited to the insurance telematics business model. Current smartphones feature a number of built-in sensors and capabilities that equip them to collect data for telematics analytics. The typical, current-generation smartphone includes a precision global-navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver, accelerometers for detecting G-forces, and multiple data connectivity mechanisms.

Mobile telematics can also be combined with the other kinds of data collection devices to extend and enhance program capabilities, trip recording accuracy and improved battery-efficiency. For example, a smartphone can be combined with an OBD device to provide driver coaching, targeted communications, and reminders—direct from the insurer. This same capability can be added to self-powered and black box solutions, and to augment data from OEM embedded solutions with complementary data from smartphones.

These capabilities can be complemented with additional sensors, such as a magnetometer, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor. Used as the core of a telematics insurance solution, the smartphone offers the advantages and challenges shown in the table below:

1. Inexpensive Alternative to In-Vehicle Hardware Devices: The solution relies on a device that the individual already has and the provider does not assume this cost. Vehicle installation is not required, so the solution can be quickly be implemented with no additional hardware. 1. Limitations in Vehicle Identification and Trip Detection: Solutions must include a mechanism to ensure that the correct trip data is captured on a regular basis – with only that data used for the purposes of telematics program inclusion and scoring.
2. Ease of Use: Consumers are accustomed with using and downloading apps. This minimizes the challenges encountered by policyholders if additional devices or service enhancements need to be installed. 2. Deliberate Fraud: The possibility of deliberate fraud is a significant challenge to address. Drivers can potentially disable the app or turn off the phone to hide risky trips from the data record.
3. Portability, Scoring and Trip Recording Accuracy: Smartphones allow driving behaviors to be accurately assessed among several different vehicles used by the driver. This differs from an OBD solution, in which several different drivers may be using the same car, but typically only the car, not the driver, is assessed. 3. Regulatory Approvals: Obtaining necessary approvals for smartphone data collection from those regulatory bodies involved in vehicle insurance is necessary in some cases.
4. Custom Engaging Apps Tailored to Smartphone Capabilities: Custom apps offer a way to to accurately measure driving performance, provide training, coaching, social interaction, gamification, and useful advice/behavioral feedback to drivers through their smartphones. 4. Battery Life: Optimizing smartphone battery life requires balancing telematics data collection with the overall lifespan of the smartphone battery to avoid excess power drainage.
5. Vehicle Compatibility: Smartphone solutions can be used with any type of vehicle to get driving data, including some of the newer electric vehicles that do not have OBD ports. 5. Lack of Direct Vehicle Information: No value-added services can be created that relate to vehicle information, such as maintenance tips and operational warnings, because the smartphone does not have direct access to diagnostics and internal vehicle data.