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Telematics- The Pulse of the Economy in Real Time


Business leaders have always sought to understand the movements of the economy so they can plan intelligently for the future. The problem is that most economic indicators are slightly out of date. Most of them show past results from data nearly one month old, making it a challenge to accurately form opinions and decisions about prospective actions in their business. Telematics on the other hand, offers a way to look into the future, and get a more up-to-date picture of the economic present.

Telematics services collect accurate, real-time data for fleet owners. One important piece of information is mileage data gathered from fleets which gives a truck fleet owner the capability of tracking economic activity in real time to see which stores need more goods and how many trucks need to make deliveries. Traditional retail data only picks up the measurable activity after money changes hands, which typically only becomes available at least a month after the transaction. Delivery truck mileage however reflects consumer interest as it happens.

To view this exchange thoroughly, Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University  tested whether telematics data agrees with economic data derived from other sources.  Dr. Fuller compared this one provider’s accumulated information to retail sales data from Moody’s and the U.S. Census Bureau. The two datasets covered the same four-year period.

And the results? With accumulated performance metrics that provided insights into the buying and selling of goods and services, the two datasets did indeed correlate very closely.

While this study only involved telematics data from one provider, it did pool information from many different carriers to include daily number of stops per vehicle, miles per stop per vehicle, and number of vehicles per region. The study concluded that retail sales are in fact dependent on the activity of fleets. When the collected number of miles driven by small fleet service carriers increased, retail sales numbers increased as well.

It is apparent that the performance of service vehicle fleets is an important factor in meeting business goals, and subsequently maintaining a healthy  economy. With GPS tracking technology, the best travel routes are displayed so that deliveries can be made on time. Fleet owners can have full access to their assets and drivers while they are on the road to make sure they are being efficient and safe, thus making their business productive and the business on the receiving end profitable. Telematics opens the door to instant data gathering that captures both business and consumer attitudes, and may prove to be a reliable tool to track the pulse of the economy.  

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