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Telematics glossary: 100+ terms to know

If you oversee or manage a fleet of vehicles, chances are you are used to dealing with a lot of data. Every day your fleet will create a lot of information on things like location, fuel, and driver behaviour. Used effectively, this can help you lower costs, improve working processes and grow your customer base.

But as with any specialised field, fleet telematics has its own lexicon of terms and acronyms, which can be bewildering when you’re exploring solutions. This guide is your roadmap to deciphering the key terms you’ll encounter, making the journey to find the right solution a smoother one. As the influence of fleet management technology continues to grow, our aim is to demystify the fundamental telematics terms in areas like compliance, fleet performance, technology, hardware, mapping, procurement, and mobile workforce. Whether you’re new to telematics or on the hunt for a fleet management system, this guide will be your go-to resource.

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4G LTE Network:

The 4G LTE network, standing for fourth generation long-term evolution, offers enhanced speed and efficiency for cloud-based fleet management and integrated solutions. It represents a significant advancement in telecommunication technology.

5G Network:

The 5G network, the fifth generation of telecommunication technology, builds upon 4G, providing increased capacity and faster transmission speeds globally.

A

Accelerometer:

An accelerometer is an electronic device measuring the vehicle’s position in three dimensions: up/down, left/right, and forward/backward. Crucial for collision reconstruction, accelerometer data aids in understanding driving behaviour leading up to an event, providing valuable insights for safety and analysis.

Active Tracking:

Active tracking delivers rapid and precise location information. Ideal for industries requiring immediate vehicle location details, such as emergency services, it enables real-time monitoring of speed, turns, and stops, ensuring safe and efficient navigation.

Aggressive Driving:

Aggressive driving, a high-risk behaviour tracked by telematics devices, encompasses speeding, harsh braking, hard acceleration, and aggressive cornering. Telematics interventions, including risk monitoring, driver coaching, and recognition programs, help mitigate such behaviours and enhance overall road safety.

Application Programming Interface (API):

APIs serve as the language facilitating the integration of fleet management systems. An API, or application programming interface, enables computers to communicate data retrieval commands. Successful integration examples include incorporating temperature tracking information on reefer units into the telematics dashboard.

Asset Tracking:

Beyond vehicles, assets like machinery and equipment can be tracked similarly using Bluetooth, GPRS and IoT technology. Asset tracking provides real-time location visibility, geofencing for theft prevention, and alerts based on predefined asset locations.

Asset Utilisation:

Fleet asset utilisation involves understanding the fleet’s vehicles, drivers, routes, and arrival times. By tracking these details, fleet managers gain insights into fleet performance, optimising vehicle, driver, and route usage for maximum operational efficiency.

Autonomous Vehicles:

Autonomous vehicles, featuring various levels of autonomous technology, represent the pinnacle with self-driving cars, trucks, and buses. Leveraging sensors, cameras, and telematics data, autonomous vehicles can operate without an operator.

Auto Integrations:

The ability to embed apps and use sensor technology within a vehicle, e.g. Apple’s CarPlay, MirrorLink, Renault’s Rlink and Android Auto.

Automatic Start / Stop:

Technology developed within an app to ensure drivers do not need to engage with their mobile devices to start or stop recording their journeys.

B

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics:

Data analytics is the process of taking big data and turning it into Business Intelligence, meaning all the data collected is turned into palatable, understandable reports that lead to actionable insights. These data-driven insights positively impact operations by identifying inefficiencies and replicating successful processes.

Big Data:

Big Data refers to extremely large and complex datasets that exceed the capacity of traditional data processing systems. Data involves managing and analysing vast amounts of information to extract valuable insights, patterns, and trends.

Black Box:

A small device fitted to a vehicle which transmits driving behaviour data to the insurer.

Bluetooth:

A standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers. Bluetooth can be used to improve Automatic Start / Stop in a telematics-based app.

C

Collision Reconstruction:

Telematics data assists fleets in reconstructing vehicle collision events. Understanding how collision detection works and interpreting data is essential for improving safety measures.

Connected Vehicles:

A connected vehicle is one that utilises advanced communication technologies to connect with the internet, other vehicles, and infrastructure. This allows for real-time data exchange, enhancing safety, efficiency, and overall driving experience. Connected vehicles can communicate with each other (V2V) and infrastructure (V2I), sharing information on traffic conditions, road hazards, and more.

Controller Area Network Bus (CAN Bus):

The Controller Area Network Bus (CAN bus) system facilitates communication between all engine computer units (ECUs) in modern vehicles. This interconnected system ensures seamless communication among various components for efficient vehicle operation.

Cost of Ignoring (COI):

In contrast to Return on Investment (ROI), the Cost of Ignoring (COI) represents the savings lost by not taking specific actions. Recognising the COI emphasises the importance of making informed decisions to prevent potential financial losses.

Cybersecurity:

Cybersecurity in telematics refers to the measures and practices implemented to safeguard the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data transmitted and processed within telematics systems.

Coasting:

When driving, coasting refers to keeping the clutch depressed so as to free-wheel and not use the engine to move, leading to the driver having less control over their car.

Contextual Data:

Refers to external data from beyond immediate telematics data to consider a driver in a wider context. Such data can involve weather, mapping, statistics and so on to better understand the circumstances of a wider environment.

D

Dash Cam:

Dash cams, or dashboard cameras, are video recording devices affixed to a vehicle’s front dashboard. They capture footage during vehicle operation, offering perspectives of the road or monitoring driver behaviour. Dash cams play a crucial role in verifying events during collisions and ensuring compliance with company driving standards.

Data Feed:

A Data Feed serves as a vital conduit for the seamless and automated transmission of information from diverse origins, such as telematics devices embedded in a fleet, to a centralised management system. The utilisation of Data Feeds is fundamental for maintaining current and accurate information, enabling efficient monitoring and analysis within the realm of fleet management systems.

Data Normalisation:

Data normalisation involves standardising data to provide aggregated insights into various vehicle features, promoting consistency and accuracy in analytics.

Data Visualisation:

Data visualisation is the process of translating telematics data into visual representations or software dashboards. It simplifies decision-making by presenting trends in fleet metrics, such as idling averages, and driver safety.

Digital Transformation:

Digital transformation is a global business movement involving technology adoption, automation, and real-time data connection for process optimisation and increased competitiveness. Cloud data storage is a key component of this transformation.

Distracted Driving:

Distracted driving is a dangerous offense involving activities like phone use, texting, or eating while driving. It diverts a driver’s attention from the road, posing serious risks and legal consequences.

Driver Feedback:

Driver feedback utilises technology to notify drivers of errors through audible alerts or spoken messages, promoting road safety. Combining feedback with driver management solutions enhances behaviour and reduces collisions.

Driver Terminal:

The in-vehicle device that supports communication between your driver and your office. It displays information on things like the fastest route or the upcoming schedule, and can also give driving advice and instructions. It is placed in a holder on the dashboard.

Drowsy Driving:

Drowsy driving, or fatigued driving, significantly increases the risk of accidents and fatalities. Driving after extended periods without sleep is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dashboard:

A user interface that organises and presents information, performance and other data relating to the user.

Data Analysis:

Refers to a range of techniques used to process large and disparate data to give actionable insight into the driving of end-users.

Data Mining:

A programmatic technique to mine useful information from a range of sources which otherwise would not be usable.

Data Protection:

Legal control over the use of and access to data stored on computers.

Decision Support:

A system intended to help decision makers compile useful information to identify and solve problems.

Driver Education:

Education of drivers is a complex subject requiring balancing the messages to ensure a positive effect with all users to improve road safety.

E

Electric Vehicles (EV):

Electric vehicles (EVs) rely on battery power and include types like hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), battery electric vehicles (BEV), and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV).

Electronic Logging Device (ELD):

An electronic logging device (ELD) automatically records driving time, Hours of Service (HOS) records, and vehicle data for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Mandated by the FMCSA, ELDs enhance road safety, compliance, and driver protection.

Engine Diagnostics:

Telematics devices provide engine status data, including RPM, voltage, fuel usage, and fluid levels. Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) offer specific insights into OEM-related engine protocols.

Engine Hours:

Engine hours indicate the actual time an engine has run, distinct from odometer-tracked kilometres. Valuable for accurate maintenance and ELDs, engine hours account for idling and high-idling applications.

Expandability:

Expandability denotes technology supporting additional integrations with software or hardware to extend capabilities.

F

Fleet Compliance:

Fleet compliance is an integral aspect of effective fleet management, particularly crucial during challenging times. It involves adherence to regulations such as electronic driver logging (ELD), tax reporting, and driver vehicle inspection reporting (DVIR), ensuring legal and operational adherence.

Fleet Electrification:

Fleet electrification denotes the transition of fleets from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric vehicles (EVs). This shift enhances fleet efficiency, aligns with green initiatives, and contributes to sustainability in the transportation industry.

Fleet Integration:

Fleet integration is the process of connecting multiple software systems within a fleet to streamline business automation. It enhances visibility, accuracy, and efficiency across fleet operations, fostering seamless coordination.

Fleet Optimisation:

Utilising telematics, fleets can optimise various operational aspects, including fuel efficiency, idle time, vehicle maintenance, and fleet utilisation. Fleet optimisation, facilitated by data-driven insights, enhances overall performance and efficiency.

Fleet:

A number of vehicles operating together or under the same ownership.

Fleet Management:

‘Fleet’ refers to the cars, vans or trucks owned by your business and used by your drivers. Therefore, fleet management refers to overseeing the operation and maintenance of these vehicles, ensuring they are used correctly, kept on the right routes and serviced properly. It also keeps the related costs under control and ensures any related legal requirements are met.

Fleet Operators:

A portal specifically aimed for fleet managers to understand a pool of drivers within an organisation.

Floating Car Data:

This details the data that vehicles produce which, following anonymisation, can be reused for wider statistical purposes.

FMS (Fleet Management System):

Vehicle telematics for a company’s vehicle fleet.

G

Geofencing:

Geofencing enables managers to create specific zones, such as office or customer locations, and set boundaries for vehicles. Alerts are triggered if a vehicle ventures outside designated areas, providing effective location-based management.

G-force:

Measured by accelerometers, G-force reflects vehicle movement and acceleration in different directions. This data is crucial for reconstructing accidents and understanding dangerous driving behaviours.

Fleet Integration:

Fleet integration is the process of connecting multiple software systems within a fleet to streamline business automation. It enhances visibility, accuracy, and efficiency across fleet operations, fostering seamless coordination.

Global Alliance for Vehicle Data Access (GAVDA):

GAVDA, the Global Alliance for Vehicle Data Access, is a group dedicated to preserving and enhancing open, secure, and technology-neutral access to real-time vehicle data for vehicle owners.

Global Positioning System (GPS):

GPS, or the global positioning system, is a navigation network utilising satellites to transmit global location data. Widely used in devices like cellphones and in-car navigation systems, GPS aids in tracking and providing directions.

GPS Fleet Tracking:

GPS fleet tracking provides comprehensive insights into vehicle location and various fleet activities. Beyond mapping, GPS tracking covers driver safety, fleet compliance, vehicle emissions, and overall vehicle health.

Green Fleet:

A green fleet refers to sustainability-focused fleets aiming to reduce environmental impact. Initiatives include lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing fuel consumption, and embracing electric vehicle adoption for eco-friendly operations.

GPS Receiver:

The device that is mounted in a vehicle and calculates its exact position using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or another satellite network. When connected to the internet, the GPS receiver can forward the vehicle coordinates to a central system.

Galileo:

EU positional satellites akin to GPS to provide accurate positioning of devices.

Geo-aware:

Also known as location awareness, this refers to devices that can determine their location such as vehicles using navigational instruments to provide their location coordinates.

GLONASS:

Russian positional satellites akin to GPS to provide accurate positioning of devices.

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service):

Mobile data service on 2G and 3G mobile systems.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications):

An open, digital technology that is used for transmitting mobile voice and data services.

H

Hours of Service (HOS):

Hours of service regulations govern the allowable driving hours for commercial vehicle drivers, ensuring safe practices and mandatory breaks. This is closely related to electronic logging systems.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV):

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) combines an onboard battery with an internal combustion engine (ICE). HEVs, like the Toyota Prius, use regenerative braking to charge their batteries and enhance efficiency during idling or initial movement.

HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle):

A term for any truck over 3,500kg in gross combined mass.

I

Internet of Things (IoT):

The Internet of Things (IoT) signifies the trend toward smart products, extending from household items to transportation applications like smart traffic signals. IoT in the automotive industry includes features like car-sharing apps, transforming how vehicles are reserved and rented through mobile apps.

In-Vehicle Coaching:

In-vehicle coaching employs devices within the vehicle cab to alert drivers through audible or visual cues about their driving behaviour, contributing to enhanced safety on the road.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address:

A unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.

J

J1939:

The J1939 standard, developed by SAE International, establishes uniform communication protocols among vehicle components. It works in tandem with the controller area network bus (CAN bus) for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, ensuring seamless signal transmission.

L

Large Data Modelling Techniques:

Modelling using large data is a computational challenge, the techniques to apply need careful design and can cover a range of state-of-the-art disciplines.

Linked Data:

Openly available data with the ability to link and combine across data sources with common aspects such as government body, location or other common fields allowing data alignment. Linked data is provided in a variety of formats and work is needed beyond a simple join to make it fit together.

M

Machine Learning:

Machine learning enables predictive modelling through historical data, allowing computers to learn likely future occurrences. Applied in autonomous vehicle technology, machine learning enhances a vehicle’s ability to adapt and learn from previous experiences on the road.

Management by Measurement:

‘Management by measurement’ refers to making decisions based on data in business practices. Vehicle telematics serves as a method for fleets to gather intelligence, informing future decisions and optimising operations.

M2M (Machine to Machine):

Technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type.

Magnetometer:

An instrument used for measuring magnetic forces. This is built into many black boxes and most phones to give a compass bearing (direction).

Mobile Application:

A software application that works on the devices’ operating system. Also known as ‘apps’, they are downloaded onto the device to perform a specific set of functions.

Mobile Traffic:

Data sent over mobile data plans.

N

Near-Field Communication (NFC):

Near-field communication (NFC) employs communication protocols for close-range device communication. In fleet management, NFC, used with telematics devices, verifies driver identity and facilitates sign-in to specific vehicles.

O

OBD II:

On-board diagnostics port (OBD-II) is an automotive electronic system for vehicle self-diagnosis and reporting capabilities. It plays a crucial role in telematics and fleet management, providing insights into vehicle health and performance.

Odometer:

An odometer in a vehicle tracks actual kilometres driven, distinct from the vehicle’s engine hours. It provides an accurate measure of a vehicle’s usage and is essential for maintenance considerations.

On-Board Computer System:

The system that allows all relevant data related to the vehicle and driver to be recorded. For example, vehicle position, driving speed and engine ignition can all be measured, captured and centrally stored through the on-board computer system.

OBD (On-Board Diagnostic):

A vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability which gives the vehicle owner access to the status of the various vehicle subsystems.

Open Platform:

Open platform in telematics denotes a system providing open access to data through software development kits (SDK) and application programming interfaces (APIs). In contrast, a closed platform may limit or filter data access. Open platforms offer flexibility for integration with other business systems and third-party applications.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer):

OEM refers to companies producing vehicles or vehicle parts.

OEM Embedded Telematics:

OEM embedded telematics involves vehicle manufacturers providing built-in modems for telematics and connected vehicle data. These systems, integrated with cloud-based telematics, require no additional installation, simplifying management across multiple vehicle makes.

Over the Air (OTA):

Over the Air (OTA) testing evaluates the performance of integrated antennas on telematics devices. It ensures safety and compliance with radiation and sensitivity standards, essential for reliable device operation.

P

Preventive Maintenance:

Preventive maintenance involves scheduled checks on a vehicle to identify potential issues. Beyond routine tasks like oil changes, it encompasses assessing fluid levels, brakes, and tyres. Telematics complements preventive maintenance by enabling maintenance tracking and issuing alerts for diagnostic trouble codes, allowing proactive identification and resolution of potential vehicle problems.

Productivity:

Fleet productivity is gauged by understanding employee work output through a calculation involving hours worked, breaks, and downtime. For details on the productivity score formula, refer to additional resources.

Permission / Access Rights:

Permissions that are granted to a user or application to read, write and erase files in the device or computer.

PII (Personal Identifiable Information):

Knowledge that can be used to identify, contact, locate or identify an individual.

Predictive Analytics:

Gives the ability of using prior data to statistically predict future outcomes.

R

Remote Diagnostics:

Remote diagnostics empowers fleets with automatic alerts on diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) from the engine’s computer. These alerts provide details on severity, fault description, and recommended actions, enabling technicians to prepare in advance, ensuring efficient repairs and minimising vehicle downtime.

Real Time:

The actual time in which a process or event occurs.

Regression:

A measure of the relation between the mean value of one variable and corresponding values of other variables, such as time and cost.

Road Traffic Data:

Any data conferring an improved understanding of the movement of vehicles on the road.

S

Scalability:

Scalability denotes the capacity to grow and strengthen as a business evolves. A scalable solution adapts seamlessly to changing business needs and expanding operations.

Scorecard:

A driver scorecard serves as a valuable tool for fleet managers to measure and rank driver performance. Customisable scorecards focus on metrics such as speeding, harsh braking, engine light status, idling, and fuel consumption, contributing to improved safety, productivity, efficiency, and compliance.

Software Development Kit (SDK):

A software development kit (SDK) provides tools, information, and examples for software developers to work with data. Paired with APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), SDKs contribute to open platform telematics, enhancing flexibility and integration capabilities.

Seat Belt Usage:

Telematics systems, enable tracking of seat belt usage. Additionally, seat belt usage can be integrated into in-vehicle coaching.

Smart City:

Smart cities leverage connected infrastructure, sensors, and IoT devices to address urban challenges like traffic congestion and public safety. Telematics and urban analytics form the foundation of smart cities, providing real-time insights into city operations and conditions.

Sustainability:

Sustainable fleet management focuses on reducing environmental impact by implementing enhancements and utilising management tools. Practices include fuel and CO2 emissions tracking, route optimisation, and the adoption of electric vehicles.

Smooth Driving:

User behaviour corresponding to the pattern of acceleration and braking, smooth driving is correlated to decreased crash risk as opposed to aggressive driving which is correlated to worst crash risks.

SMS (Short Message Service):

A text messaging service that allows fixed line or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. Sending text messages whilst driving is extremely dangerous.

Software Update / Upgrade:

Software that is designed to fix problems with or update a computer programme or its supporting data.

T

Tracking and Tracing:

The activity of following a vehicle. Tracing refers to the reproduction of the route the vehicle has followed. Tracking refers to the location of the vehicle itself, i.e. where is it right now?

Telematics:

Telematics involves monitoring vehicles or equipment using devices to track GPS location, speed, driving behaviour, and engine data. It plays a crucial role in fleet management and optimisation.

Third-party Device Integration:

Third-party device integration enables connecting partner devices to the telematics platform. This integration allows viewing partner device data alongside telematics data in, ensuring consistent rules and reporting.

Trips:

Telematics tracks vehicle trips from start to finish, defining a trip as the duration from when the vehicle begins moving to when it starts moving again after a stop, ignition is turned off, or the vehicle maintains a speed of less than 1km/h for over 200 seconds.

Tachograph:

A device fitted to a vehicle that automatically records its speed and distance. Such devices have been heavily used in HGVs and trains for many years. In the early days this technology was much derided, but now it is seen as essential by drivers and employers alike to protect all involved.

Telematic System:

A black box, OBD, white box, smartphone device or embedded vehicle electronics used to capture telemetry data from a moving vehicle.

Telemetry:

A highly automated communications process. Measurements are made and other data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment to be monitored.

Tracking Device:

An electronic device which allows you to monitor the location of a subject, such as a person, object or vehicle.

TSP (Telematics Service Provider):

A business or organisation that provides telematics-based products and services to its customers.

U

User Engagement Analysis:

An essential part of customer retention. This insight gives needed observation into the success of any user interaction by the visibility and response of the users.

V

Vehicle Dwell:

Vehicle dwell refers to the location where a fleet vehicle resides when not in use, such as a garage, driveway, or fleet yard.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN):

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique identifier assigned to each vehicle, facilitating tracking throughout its lifespan. Large fleets benefit from VIN tracking, which is crucial for identifying recalls.

W

Web Application:

Software that runs in a web browser.

Web Portal:

Web browser-based portal made available to end-users to access and see information.

White Box:

A reduced and hence cheaper variant of black box telematic devices, white boxes reduce functionality that can be obtained from other sources or is less valuable to provide a cheaper telematics solution.

Z

Zero Emissions:

Zero emissions signify a global movement toward sustainability, emphasising electric vehicles (EVs) that produce minimal or no greenhouse gas emissions. Explore the journey to zero emissions for more insights.

Zones:

Creating zones is a key functionality in telematics software, enabling fleet managers to track productivity metrics. For example, it helps monitor the duration a truck remains stopped at a customer location for a drop-off.