The Road to Success: The Value of IoT in Ground Transportation

By Special Guest
John Bosse, Offering Manager for Ground Transportation, The Weather Company, an IBM Business
May 03, 2018

Data from the edge is the hot topic giving strength to IoT networks around the world, but taking that edge data and translating it for the ground transportation industry -- where the actual edge is trucks on the road -- presents a challenge. In this space where weather has a high impact rate on delivery rates, transit times, and human error, it’s imperative that IoT solutions be put in place to actively aid ground transportation companies get the job done. 

Weather: The Most Impactful Variable
The strategy for your IoT installation must include translating the reems of incoming data into useable information on which your organization can take immediate action. The key to a successful implementation of IoT data involves an innate understanding that adverse weather conditions can hinder the ability of any business to do business.

Within ground transportation, this impact is felt every day and in every application: Weather causes 28 percent of highway crashes, 19 percent of fatalities, and 23 percent of delays. That’s a tremendous and often avoidable negative impact on a sector that generates nearly $1.5 trillion in the U.S. alone. With thin profit margins and penalties for schedule interruptions, fleets need better ways to ensure on-time arrival and keep their crews, cargo, and equipment out of harm’s way.

Decision support resources that help fleet professionals make more confident decisions earlier and positively impact business outcomes are critical to the business success of the ground transportation industry -- and thankfully there are IoT solutions in place today that can help operations managers better react to and predict enroute hazards on the roads.

Hitting the Road with Analytics
But again, it’s not just about the IoT data that’s gathered, it’s what ground transportation companies can do with it that determines its value to their overall business.

Gathering the IoT data from telematics sensors is the first step in identifying maintenance or cargo issues before they disrupt performance. By geolocating this data with driver-reported incidents, ground transportation operations managers can create feedback loops to help other drivers make better decisions. Together with data from real-time IoT sources of public and proprietary data, companies can create databases housing past, current, forecast, and seasonal weather data, near-real-time and historical traffic, and road hazard identification and notification -- all to help them see the bigger picture of the road ahead.

Cognitive learning and analytics make it possible to deliver services like route-planning based on current conditions and the predicted impact of weather’s influence on future traffic. In-cab alerts can be created for drivers to warn them of dangerous slowdowns, black ice, or dense fog ahead to help them make the best decisions for the safety of themselves and their cargo.

IoT: The Future of Ground Transportation Data
The helicopter view of IoT for the ground transportation industry is that, with better data, databases, and analytics, roadblocks based on weather and traffic can be avoided both in real time and during the planning phase of the journey.

For operations, this means a better allocation of drivers and other workers to accommodate needed diversions from a typical plan and more efficiency in terms of resources. Drivers can get the most up-to-date information possible directly in their cab so they can take steps to avoid disruption -- whether that be another route or even taking a break for driving until conditions clear up.

While in other industries the benefits of IoT are still finding their niche, ground transportation has the unique opportunity to use this technology now to improve how they do business every day. It may be the road less travelled this early in the game, but it’s certainly the path to success.

About the author: John Bosse is an Offering Manager for Ground Transportation, The Weather Company, an IBM Business.  As a trained meteorologist, John is always seeking new and better ways to apply weather intelligence to complex business channels. With more than 30 years of experience, he leads the development of new products and services that support the travel and transportation industry. He has spent over 20 years at The Weather Company and held leadership roles at Schneider Electric and WeatherBug working across energy, aviation, and public safety verticals.

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Edited by Ken Briodagh
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