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Why Mobile Video Telematics Systems are Replacing GPS Tracking Systems

At GPS Commander, we’re seeing a shift within our customer base, from standard GPS tracking devices to mobile video telematics systems.  Until recently, live mobile video telematics, which consumes a lot of cellular data, wasn’t feasible due to insufficient speeds and costly wireless data service. However, with the advent of high speed 4G connectivity and substantial reductions in wireless data costs, mobile video telematics is now becoming mainstream. Today, the ongoing monthly fees for a mobile video telematics system (which also provides GPS tracking) are very similar to what customers are typically paying for simple GPS tracking. Given the additional benefits that mobile video systems provide, the return on investment can be exceptional.

Dash Cam Configurations

The most popular type of mobile video telematics system is the 4g connected dash cam. The beauty of dash cam systems is that they are fast and simple to install, with all of the electronics and cameras contained in a small footprint housing that is affixed to the vehicle windshield with 3M tape. While simple in concept, manufacturing such a product is not a simple task, given the challenges of miniaturization and the excessive heat conditions under which they must operate. There is a great deal of technology packed into such a tiny housing and it must be able to survive and operate in the searing sun of an Arizona parking lot, where interior vehicle temperatures can rise to 160 degrees plus. Even the tape used to mount to the windshield must be specially engineered to remain secure under such temperatures.

GPS Commander provides the Scout series of commercial grade dash cam systems to business and industrial customers. These are exceptionally reliable products featuring high quality, all-aluminum construction, designed for longevity in harsh conditions. 

Scout can be purchased in these configurations:

  • A single dash cam – typically includes a forward facing camera. Additional cameras can be added later.
  • A dual dash cam – normally includes a forward-facing camera and a driver-facing camera. If preferred, the driver-facing camera can be changed to a rear-facing camera that is 3M taped to the rear window, facing backwards or mounted at the back of a truck. 
  • A three camera dash cam. Normally, this would typically include a forward facing camera, driver-facing camera and a rear-facing camera.

The Scout AI Powered Dash Cam system works with the GPS Commander cloud dashboard to provide the following capabilities:

  • Live GPS tracking with 10 second updates
  • Live 1080p Video Streaming
  • Harsh Driving Behavior Scoring and Alerts with Video Evidence Uploading
  • ADAS (Automatic Driving Assistance) Alerts & Coaching with Video Evidence Uploading
  • DSM (Driver Safety Monitoring) Alerts & Coaching with Video Evidence Uploading
  • Evidence Dashboard for Supervisory Review, Incident Reporting and Sign-Off
  • Cloud-based Video and GPS History Storage
  • Integrated WiFi for Supervisor In-Vehicle Review and Download

GPS Commander Cloud Fleet Management Platform

Real-Time GPS Tracking

Scout transmits real-time GPS location information every 10 seconds to the GPS Commander cloud-based tracking platform, which provides a wide range of GPS tracking and fleet management capabilities. This includes a full 12 months of GPS tracking history with Google Maps, with real-time traffic, satellite and street views. GPS Commander includes configurable alerts for speeding, extended idling, geo-fence arrival or departure, etc. It also includes a comprehensive maintenance scheduling and expense tracking system. A wide range of reports are included, with the ability to set up automatic scheduled report delivery via email to save management time.

Extensive Forensics Video History

In addition to acting as a real time tracking device, Scout provides a wide range of video related capabilities. This commences with on-board storage of all camera activity, 100% of the time the vehicle is in operation. Scout combines high efficiency H.265 video compression technology with 512 GB of on-board storage capacity to provide the industry’s longest on-board dash cam historical storage –over 4 times the storage of other competing products. This is a critical benefit, providing superior forensics protection for past events that suddenly require review several days after they occurred.

Live HD Video Streaming

Included with GPS Commander Cloud, is the Command Vision dashboard, which allows for real-time viewing and listening of video and audio streams from the dash cams, as well as the capture of picture snapshots from any camera on command. At any time, you may issue a command to:

  • Watch live video from any or all cameras
  • Listen to live audio
  • Record live video to the cloud
  • Pull historic video from the device to view and store it in the cloud

How Scout Uses AI to Monitor and Improve Driver Safety

Scout systems include on-board artificial intelligence (AI) based video processing that scans the road and the driver to identify dangerous situations and risky behavior. The forward-facing camera focuses on the road ahead for ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance) based exceptions and the driver-facing camera focuses on the driver for DSM (Driver Safety Monitoring) based exceptions. When one of the predefined ADAS or DSM based scenarios occurs, (see below) one or more of the following outcomes will result:

  1. The driver is alerted, using sounds and/or voice announcements to capture their attention and avert a potentially dangerous situation. These alerts also serve as coaching aids -for example, forewarning a driver that they are engaging in risky behavior. As a result, the driver will quickly learn what is acceptable and can adapt to remain within those limits.
  2. Video, audio, snapshots and location information are uploaded to the Command Vision cloud automatically, for supervisory review and alerting.

ADAS, DSM and Behavior Events Integrated Into Scout 

GPS Commander customers can easily enable, disable and configure each of the following pre-defined exceptions listed below. Each defined event, when triggered by the driver, will cause an alert and associated driving information to be uploaded to the Command Vision dashboard. (Included with GPS Commander)

For example, an event for hard braking could be configured to cause camera snapshots to be remotely uploaded to Command Vision. Another event for Following Too Close could be created that causes a voice warning to the driver and the uploading of a few seconds of camera videos for review. A Pedestrian Collision or Driver Fatigue event could alert the driver, upload video and alert the Supervisor, all in real time. When a driver exceeds one of the defined thresholds, the associated pictures, video and audio are automatically streamed over 4G cellular to the Command Vision cloud-based server, where they are stored for 90 days. From there, they may be watched over and over without any additional use of cellular data.

ADAS Compliance – using the forward facing camera, The Scout DV-25 improves driving behavior by warning the driver and uploading video evidence to Command Vision when these events occur:

  • Lane Adherence
  • Following Too Close
  • Pedestrian Collision Warning
  • Collision Avoidance

DSM Compliance – using the driver facing camera, The Scout DV-25 improves driving safety by warning the driver and uploading video evidence to Command Vision when these events occur:

  • Driver Smoking
  • Driver Distraction
  • Smartphone Use
  • Driver Fatigue

Harsh Driving Compliance – using the integrated accelerometer, The Scout DV-25 improves driving behavior by uploading video evidence to Command Vision when the driver engages in these events:

  • Rapid Acceleration
  • Sudden Hard Braking
  • Hard Left Corner
  • Hard Right Corner
  • Speeding

Input Monitoring – Scout monitors 3 inputs, such as Driver SOS, SeatBelt, Door Open, PTO -activation of such an input can cause an alert and automatic uploading of video evidence to Command Vision.

Evidence Dashboard

Triggered events are automatically placed into the Evidence Review tab on the dashboard. Each one can be viewed in high def video right in the browser, downloaded as a local media file to the user’s PC or shared via email or a QR code. With a single mouse click, any incident can be downloaded as a Driver Report PDF report that shows the type of incident, driver and vehicle information, a map of where it occurred and details regarding the incident.

In order for an incident to be removed from the Evidence Review area, it must be signed off by a supervisor. Once signed off, it can be recalled as an historic incident for up to 90 days.

Historical Access to Video Information

In order to conserve mobile data, only video that meets defined rules or criteria is transmitted over cellular to the Command Vision cloud. The remainder of the non-event related video data remains recorded on the 4g connected dash cam. Occasionally, the event that we want to see from a few days ago did not meet the pre-defined criteria to be transmitted. For example, a driver getting a hard time from an angry motorist or customer would not likely have met any such criteria.

Like a building security system, the Scout mobile video system captures 100%l of the video information on a day-to-day basis and store it, to resolve situations that may arise after the fact. 

Retrieve Video From a Dash Cam On Demand

There are several ways to review video stored data on the vehicle, that has not been uploaded to the Command Vision cloud: (Because the incident did not trigger any event)

a) Stream it live or download it via cellular, right from Command Vision dashboard. You simply choose the desired date and time range. This is only recommended for small clips.

b) Hop into any vehicle to search and review any stored video right from your smartphone via Scout’s integrated WiFi Access Point. When the Scout is first powered up with vehicle ignition on, it launches itself into WiFi Access Point mode for a couple of minutes. This allows a supervisor to join that hotspot from their smartphone or tablet and use the provided app to watch any stored video, audio and snapshot history. It also allows the unit to be re-configured or have any of its system settings changed. Note that this method does not require that you have a WiFi download site at your yard.

c) Another method is to go out to the vehicle with a laptop, plug it into the USB of the dash cam and copy any of the recorded video right onto the laptop, You can copy any of the files to your laptop that are of interest, or for that matter, the entire contents of the SD card.

d) Copy the SD card contents to a USB stick

e) The system includes software to install a WiFi download site at your main yard(s) where the vehicles are parked. Once the truck is in WiFi coverage in the yard with its ignition on, you can search the entire contents of its SD card by date and time range, then stream it live. For example, a customer complains that your driver was yelling at him beside the vehicle last Tuesday morning. Search last Tuesday morning and watch exactly what happened from both cameras. You can do this from any PC browser, or from a provided Windows application or from a provided smartphone app. Once you locate the video for last Tuesday, you can watch it or download it. 

Benefits of Video Telematics Systems

The benefits of GPS fleet tracking are well known and accepted, with penetration rates expected to exceed 49% of all commercial vehicles in the next 2 years. This technology has proven to provide an exceptional return on investment due to benefits in customer service, efficiency, driver safety and so on…

Now, imagine when we take all of those benefits and add your Grandmother to the front seat of every one of your vehicles! Ever notice how well you drove as a young man or woman when you had to drive Granny home? I remember driving home like an idiot after dropping her off, but on the way there, I was impressive! Of course, part of the credit should go to her for prompting me whenever I went too fast, got too close or stopped paying attention. Well, as funny or true as that may sound, the closest you can come to duplicating this sudden safety enhancement is putting dash cams in your commercial vehicles!

Just knowing that their driving habits are being monitored will make an overnight difference in their driving safety. Imagine the impact when they receive their first couple of report cards itemizing the location, time, details and camera snapshots of their hard cornering or speeding event. Now, if we add AI powered ADAS and DSM alerts to the package, we just put all Granny right back in the front passenger seat! Better stop looking at your phone Johnny!, or Are you paying attention Johnny?

GPS Commander with Command Vision is a complete mobile and video telematics solution that provides the following benefits to fleets:

  • Mitigate risks by using actual situations to provide more effective training
  • Reduce liability by maintaining accurate evidence of what happened on the ground
  • Increase driver safety through improved training, better awareness & safer practices
  • Reduce insurance claims through increased prevention & reduced risky behavior
  • Reduce fleet operating and insurance costs
  • Increase fleet and dispatch efficiency
  • Improved performance & customer service through quicker response & less errors

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