It is predicted that 28 billion devices and connections will be online by 2022. Each is poised and capable of generating data every second of every day. The result: a truly mind-boggling abundance of data to be managed, analyzed and stored by those interested in its potential revelations.
Does data have a role in fleet management? Can it be mined to make more informed decisions and predictions about school bus operations? Fortunately, yes. Fleet management software and its customizable tools are configurable to generate data specific to a district’s operations. Some of today’s most advanced options accumulate and transmit data wirelessly and automatically to handheld devices, saving districts substantial amounts of time and money.
Dan Mancuso, software engineer manager with Omaha, Nebraska-based REI®, states, “The adoption rate of automated fleet management software has really picked up in the last few years. Because of new technologies, including better and cheaper cellular, and lowering barriers to adoption such as having ARMOR™ fleet management software available in the cloud, it's easier than ever for customers to use these new features.”
The capabilities and details provided by each solution vary greatly. Read on to learn more about data’s potential for creating more productive, efficient and safer school bus operations.
Beyond the typical recorded events showing driver performance, collected data has the capacity to provide insights about their specific behaviors and tendencies. Data such as on-time performance, idling, speeding, hard breaking and other analytics may be generated. It can then be extrapolated to identify trends and assess driver safety practices. In addition, the compiled data and subsequent reports can serve as coaching tools and sources for ranking drivers.
Vehicle & DVR Health
Once reserved for mechanics, the general health status of a vehicle may be monitored by data collected and reported by software integrated with an installed J-1939 Can-BUS cable. Details such as speed, distance, fuel economy, and general engine information offer can clues about inefficiencies and assist in their diagnosis. In addition, the status of a vehicle’s surveillance equipment may be monitored to ensure its operational status prior to leaving the bus lot. The data generated is then compiled into daily reports, allowing administrators to locate and solve potential problems.
In addition to auto-recorded video, event details may also be collected and extrapolated for valuable insights into possible concerns with specific neighborhoods, drivers, vehicles and other factors. Users select the data to be flagged, recorded and reported for their unique operations, like vehicle numbers, drivers, dates/times, GPS coordinates and events. The requested data is then compiled and listed for easy reference and quick review by administration. Real-time, event-specific notifications may also be generated and sent to administrators for immediate action, if needed. The entire data collection and reporting process is automated, saving time spent on hard-drive pulling and analysis.
Besides automatic license-plate captures, accurate data relating to stop-arm violations is crucial for evaluation and subsequent submission to law enforcement. Solutions exist now for capturing the date/time of a violation, correlating GPS coordinates, vehicle number, driver name, driver behavior and video status. The accompanying data may be sorted and prioritized into an easy-to-read list for easy identification and appraisal. Analyzing the data for recurrences in a particular area or by a particular driver can help districts assess the need for increased public awareness programs or driver training classes.
Some advanced fleet management solutions offer comprehensive data about an entire fleet, a group of vehicles or a single bus. Using onboard DVRs and GPS as their sources, the systems ultimately provide reports containing information about historical and current bus routes, diagnostics, recorded events, driver performance and other relevant data, such as speed, RPM and acceleration. Administrators are then afforded overviews of their fleets to assess and make more informed decisions about the efficiency and economy of their operations.
Fleet management systems integrating advanced driver assistance systems and associated data create safer, more streamlined operations. When collision, pedestrian, lane departure, speeding and other ADAS warnings are triggered, data profiling each warning is collected, stored, then assembled into detailed reports. Included in these reports is data tracking the frequency, location, date/time and driver associated with each warning. Reports may then be reviewed by administration and utilized to coach drivers and encourage safer driving habits, if needed. The data may also be configured to send automated event notifications to administrators, enabling quick problem diagnosis and resolution.
Fleet management solutions employing cellular and RFID technology produce real-time data confirming student boarding/departure times, early/late bus arrivals, correct buses, correct stops and other status details. The data may also be included in notifications to parents, students and school officials to resolve their concerns quickly. In addition, the data may be configured for daily activity summaries, allowing administration to search ridership status by specific day, route, student and vehicle. The most advanced solutions also integrate apps for notifying parents and students about vehicle ETAs.
Mancuso concludes, “The major benefit of today’s fleet management solutions is convenience. You can check the data collected through a web portal, on your mobile phone, or get alerted via email. It may be uploaded to a server in the cloud where customers can access it at any time. The data access is instantaneous, and these new technologies are making it easier than ever to know what's happening on your vehicles.”