What is

Author: Poornima Apte

Telematics is not a new concept and has been around since the 1960s, though the term wasn’t coined until around 1978. But what is telematics?

In its broadest sense, telematics is the joining of two sciences, telecommunications and informatics. Today, the term is commonly used in reference to commercial fleet vehicles and refers to the joining of telecommunications with vehicle data.

How does telematics work?

Telematics enables real-time transmission of all aspects of a vehicle's location, operation and function and uses it to derive and implement operational insights. Vehicle telematics operates on the premise that both near-real time and long-term vehicle data can increase productivity and efficiency in a variety of ways.

Data gathered can include idling time, application of brakes, vehicle location using GPS, distance traveled, speed, engine condition, gas consumption and more. Such information finds a variety of applications—in fleet and supply chain management, asset tracking, emergency warning systems, toll management for mileage-based taxes, and insurance claims and charges verification. The smart city of the future could also be fueled by real-time car telematics aiding traffic management.

What is a vehicle telematics system?

A vehicle telematics system is a set of electronic components combined with technology stacks, such as Hyper Precise Location solutions, that facilitate the gathering, relaying and processing of information from a vehicle, whether it is in motion or not.

Common features of telematics systems in cars

The building blocks of a car telematics system may include:

  1. A network of vehicular electronic control units: Under the hood, various critical components of a car each have their own microcontroller, which is a mini computer that keeps a pulse on performance. These electronic control units (ECUs) relay performance data.
  2. Telematics control unit (TCU): The TCU aggregates the data coming from various ECUs and the GPS for location information. Using an onboard modem and a cellular network or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), the TCU relays these to the cloud for analysis. In some cases, as in braking systems, analyses and decisions have to happen in split seconds, in which case they happen at the edge.
  3. A cloud-based server: The cloud-based server processes data and delivers insights following specially built models.
  4. Connected mobile or desktop application: Operators access relevant business insights through the vehicle dashboard or a mobile or desktop application.

Information from car telematics makes its way to the cloud, where it is processed for insights, which in turn routes back to the right medium for immediate access.

The benefits of telematics in fleet management

The 2021 Fleet Technology Trends Report reported users of vehicle telematics identified efficiency, safety and productivity as key benefits.


  • Vehicle telematics can monitor braking and idling patterns and suggest insights to improve fuel efficiency.
  • Understanding fleet location data and merging these with weather information can help dispatchers warn drivers about approaching storms and reroute vehicles accordingly.
  • Telematics data can also help to optimize truckloads (an important factor in supply chain management) and frequency of stops.
  • Maintaining electronic logging device (ELD) compliance and adhering to other privacy laws is made easier using telematics.
  • Fleet operators can set up processes to file the necessary documentation automatically.


  • Car telematics can improve understanding of engine performance data, giving operators better insight into when and which components are about to fail.
  • Fleet management can proactively schedule maintenance and repairs, prevent extensive downtime and improve productivity. In less than a year, 32% of fleets using fleet management technology achieved a positive ROI.
  • Apps that connect driver telematics data with hours logged and payroll management help drivers decrease time spent on administrative work and increase productivity.


  • Driver safety improves with vehicle telematics data that produces weekly scorecards showing braking, idling, speeding and seat belt use patterns. Providing drivers with this data helps to underscore the drive for increased safety and efficiency. It also allows drivers to better understand where they can improve—and how.
  • Logging time spent behind the wheel can also prompt drivers to take necessary breaks and improve safety.
  • In the case of an accident, fleet telematics also helps to drive faster assistance and easier filing of insurance claims with data gathered from under the hood.

Telematics and fleet management can deliver a host of advantages amid increasing pressures on fuel efficiency and the supply chain. Discover more about Verizon’s telematics and fleet management.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.



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