The Internet of Things Before it was Cool: The Precursor to IoT was the Connected Fleet

by Brad Taylor, VP of Data and IoT Solutions, Omnitracs

“Eventually everything connects – people, idea, objects…the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se. Unlike Keats, who said that knowing about the rainbow shatters its beauty, I feel that the knowledge about an object can only enrich your feelings for the object itself.”

Charles Eames (1907-1978)

Charles Eames was a noted designer and visionary of the last century who created singular objects that were “connected” to people by design and purpose.  Imagine Eames’ delight in the Internet of Things (IoT), and in a world in which “everything connects” – not just spiritually, but technologically.

An increasingly connected world is part of both the past and the future of transportation, and Omnitracs has driven this effort for fleets since the last century, before anyone had heard of IoT.  In the late 1980s, before the Internet was widely adopted, Omnitracs was already connecting trucks with fleet managers via telematics to create what we call the “Interstate of ThingsTM”.

Like Eames, Omnitracs saw the value of connection, and the potential of a connected future for fleet management.  Having served as the pioneer for connected devices, the transportation industry benefited from Omnitracs’  innovation well in advance of other industries. Consider that twenty years ago, if you went to any parking lot, the only connected vehicle there was likely a truck!

Now, the smart truck is no longer cutting edge but an integral asset for efficient fleets. The future is here, with institutions like the FMCSA specifying technological details as part of regulatory mandates.  Billions of connected devices contribute to smart cities, smart infrastructure, and today’s smartest fleets.

Consider a typical day in the field for a smart truck that’s part of a smart fleet:

  • Software and devices are configured over the air (OTA) to meet the day’s needs
  • Routes are optimized using analytics in advance of departure
  • Dynamic navigation adapts to changes in the driver’s journey
  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) data exchange eliminates unnecessary delays
  • Predictive analytics ensures safe operating parameters while maintaining regulatory compliance for both the vehicle and the driver
  • Service stations communicate the availability of parking, and allow drivers to reserve a spot in advance
  • Scheduling and dispatching communicate directly to IoT-enabled containers and equipment, giving the fleet visibility into and governance over all the assets within its fleet ecosystem

Where will the Internet of Things take us?  Jack Roberts, editor of Overdrive magazine, said, “The industry will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 50.”2  That may seem like a shocking statement, considering how much change we’ve experienced since 1966.  But, having a longer perspective gives the transportation industry a strategic advantage for leveraging the oceans of data now at our fingertips.  We’ve moved beyond simple diagnostics to complicated prognostics, and the explosion of new devices positions us to expand technology at exponential pace.  Consider Google, for example.  Google collects the GPS information from Android phones to compare posted speed limits to how fast drivers are actually going.  Paired with traffic severity models, it’s predicted that this type of IoT scenario could save approximately 30,000 lives and avoid 2.12 million injuries each year, according to Morgan Stanley.3

Those are impressive numbers, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.  Over the next decade, the IoT in logistics is expected to generate $1.9 trillion in value, part of an overall $8 trillion in IoT value globally, according to the 2015 DHL and Cisco Internet of Things Trend Report.4

If you’re asking, “What does this mean for my fleet?” – let’s drive it home.  Because our industry was there first, we’re already leveraging the benefits of decades of implementation of IoT strategy to identify which opportunities to capitalize upon first. For example, is maximizing capacity your fleet’s top concern?  IoT solutions help you determine which trucks have space, measure how much space they have, and even help recruit matching partner loads so your truck is full before it hits the road.

At Omnitracs, we see the movement toward “everything connected” as the vehicle by which we collaborate as an industry to make both the truck and driver safer and more productive, make the fleets savvier and more profitable, make our clients’ experiences with technology richer, and make their clients’ experiences are more satisfying.

Omnitracs is innovation driven, and we’re proud to continue to lead the industry.


Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, LC-DIG-ds-03756 (digital file from original item), (digital file from original) ds 03756 03756,