The transportation industry has been radically transformed by the integration of telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Together, they are changing the entire landscape of businesses. A similar thing was seen in Houston where connected car technology was used for monitoring environmental pollution. Although other cities were seen monitoring sites several miles apart by operating “MAAML,” for “mobile ambient air monitoring laboratory,” a modified Ford E-Series camper filled with instruments and sensors, that were dispatched to hot spots.
Recently, Houston monitored the quality of air by using two regular vehicles doing their regular jobs but equipped with magnets. These magnets are “hats” that use antenna-style intakes and optical particle counters to measure levels of black carbon and PM2.5, a form of particulate matter, wherever and whenever the vehicles are in use. These vehicles were expected to travel a fraction of Houston’s roads and highways but even then they find the few hot spots. It is said in an official statement that to monitor the 30% of the city’s air, 30 vehicles equipped with air-quality hats for six months, would be sufficient. It is not necessary to equip thousands of vehicles for monitoring but choosing the right vehicle is the key; which can be done with telematics.
The experiment conducted by the Houston Health Department indicated the new level of insight into vehicle performance and driver safety. According to their official statement, the biggest thing that they gained was the safety aspect.
The Houston/ Environment Defense Fund is one of the many examples where the emerging connected car technology is used; leveraging the miles traveled by city-owned vehicles to collect and report data the city can use to identify and redress the problems not necessarily related to the fleet — all while optimizing fleet operations.