British police considering telematics

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We all know the benefits of telematics when it comes to finding stolen vehicles – recovery times are drastically reduced in almost all instances – but British police are looking to add the tracking and sensor laden hardware/software to their vehicles, in an effort to improve the efficiency and safety of the officers driving them.

Fleetnews has been speaking with the National Association of Police Fleet Managers, who said that the organisation is looking into the idea of adding telematics to all police vehicles. It believes that over time, as well as maximising the police’s use of vehicles, it’ll end up saving money through reductions in fuel usage, which will hopefully benefit the tax payers just as much as the police forces in the long term. Some organisations are expected to save as much as £500,000 a year, making the savings not-insignificant by any stretch of the imagination. In one trial, fuel consumption was reduced by over 2,000 gallons a week.

It will also help cut down on any officers that happen to use their vehicles for illegitimate purposes, thereby potentially decreasing the numbers of accidents involving police cars and making the roads safer. Over the past few years, certain forces that have implemented the technology has seen big improvements, with one county that fitted over half of their vehicles with telematics systems, seeing a drop in vehicle damage by 34 per cent.

However, when it comes to paying for the technology, it – as always – comes down to funding, with discussions ongoing about whether a national budget should be provided for the telematics roll out, or if local forces should fund it from their own.

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Some cars should probably have it added first…

While a few trial runs of the technology have shown it can work, the home office wants to see a standardised solution, so understandably different telematics companies are vying for the opportunity. Airmax, a provider of telematics for fleet vehicles, has had its services used in conjunction with the West Yorkshire police trial and is hoping to have them extended to other forces around the country.

Business development director at the company, Richard Perham said: “Police forces are looking to telematics to manage driver behaviour and reduce crash rates but also other scenarios such as cutting out unnecessary mileage, cutting fuel use and compliance.

“We hope to win more police fleet contracts in the next 12 months and in the next five years telematics systems may be part of the OEM specification contract for vehicles delivered from the factory.”

Of course Airmax is interested in providing full suites of sensors, but we may see a somewhat reserved rollout of telematics technology. While mainstream solutions often combine GPS tracking with accelerometers and other measure gadgets, we may initially just see black box-like recorders in police vehicles to report on any traffic incidents that they have. From there progression may be made to add GPS and journey data recorders, though ideally the full telematics services would be employed, as those would provide the most data and therefore the most functional improvement to police vehicle efficiency.

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Shaun has been contributing to motoring and technology sites in various sectors for many years. He has a keen interest in anything automotive and many contacts across the industry, which helps feed his appetite for the latest news and views.