An Introduction to Telematics

Learn more about telematics and its role in fleet and asset management.

fleet manager using telematics on their tablet and their trucks

What is Telematics?

Telematics involves the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide services such as remote monitoring, tracking, and control. Combining the ideas of telecommunications and informatics, telematics is commonly used by fleet managers for vehicle tracking systems in the transportation industry to remotely monitor their vehicles, equipment, and assets.


The concept of telematics can be dated back to the 1960s and 1970s. It was created and used by the US Navy during the Cold War with the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). With the use of satellites, they were able to track submarines that carried nuclear weapons, becoming one of the earliest uses of telematics.

As GPS technology progressed, so did telematics. However, the term “telematics” officially came to be in 1978 by French authors Nora and Alain Minc in their study regarding the influence of computers on society. The term was a blend of the French words for télécommunications (“telecommunications”) and informatique (“computing science”) and generally meant to refer to how computerization would affect society moving forward.

Included in this definition were fields that relied heavily on networks or telecommunications to send data, such as academics, computer management, and internet studies.

What is Telematics Used For?

Today, telematics is now heavily associated with vehicle and fleet management. In particular, businesses involved in cargo shipping, transportation, and the like now require telematics in their daily operations. It has become an essential part of promoting road and driver safety, as tracking vehicle journeys and status has helped promote better maintenance and driving practices. In some cases, telematics has also been used for transportation needs such as aircraft maintenance and journey and overall asset management.

Some vehicles come with pre-installed telematics equipment from the get-go, while others do not but can be easily equipped with them. External sensors are now easily accessible for all to use, making road, travel, and driver safety simple.


The main benefit of using telematics is that you will always be aware of your assets, no matter where you may be. Other advantages of having a telematics system include the following:

  • Improving and ensuring driver safety
  • More efficient route and drive planning based on data collected from vehicles
  • Knowing the best time to conduct maintenance checks
  • Reducing unnecessary costs by monitoring fuel usage, optimizing driving journeys, and detecting issues on the road

How it Works

At its core, telematics provides users with real-time data on their assets—most notably vehicles—and usage over long distances. Telematics systems consist of several key components, such as the following:

  • GPS receivers
  • Monitoring sensors
  • Specialized computers for processing data
  • Communication modules for transmitting data over wireless networks
  • Dedicated servers for storing and analyzing data

These components work together to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of data taken from vehicles and assets. Common data collected by telematics sensors and technology can include:

  • location traveled;
  • vehicle speed;
  • fuel consumption and management;
  • issues;
  • engine performance; and
  • the status of items being transported (in some cases).

Weather data and temperature can also be collected by certain telematics devices if necessary. In some cases, the condition of the drivers or passengers can also be recorded by telematics. After, all data will then be sent to the sensors’ respective servers with help from satellites.

With the rise of cellular and newer wireless technology, Wi-Fi, Near-Field Communication (NFC), and Bluetooth systems have also been integrated into the use and management of telematics, making it easier to track vehicles and assets anytime and anywhere.

By leveraging these technologies, you can now share and analyze data from multiple devices all at once, and be aware of their conditions, leading to an informed decision-making process based on real-time insights.

Combined with a digital solution, you can also manage your telematics data in one place, streamlining your analytics and business operations. Connect your sensors and monitoring systems to one central system and monitor operations 24/7, capture issues, and resolve problems with immediate corrective actions.

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What are Examples of Telematics?

While telematics technology is commonly associated with vehicle management and overall fleet management, it has other applications in different industries. Some of the most common examples of telematics in use include the following:

  • For manufacturing and construction: Monitoring the performance of industrial equipment, detecting potential issues before they become major problems, and optimizing maintenance schedules to reduce downtime.
  • For healthcare: Improving patient care in hospitals and other caring facilities through remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions
  • For agriculture: Optimizing crop yields and reducing waste by remotely monitoring soil moisture levels to create efficient irrigation schedules and reduce water usage
  • For retail:  Automating inventory control and improving customer experiences both in-store and online
  • For general supply chain management: Tracking the movement of assets along the supply chain in real time, ensuring quality control, and optimizing delivery processes

FAQs about Telematics

GPS technology primarily focuses on tracking your location and providing navigation assistance for vehicles or devices. On the other hand, telematics is a broader system that incorporates GPS technology along with telecommunications to gather, transmit, and analyze a comprehensive set of data beyond just location.

Yes, telematics is a part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Telematics involves the use of sensors and GPS trackers for various assets like fleets, trucks, agricultural machinery, and more. Since it involves machine-to-machine communication and interconnection of various devices and systems through the internet, it falls under the concept of IoT.

Mobile telematics technology utilizes the sensors present in smartphones to collect driving data, including trip journey details and driving behavior. By utilizing sensors like GPS receivers, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers in smartphones, mobile telematics can generate rich data on how a driver operates a vehicle.

Most modern cars are equipped with telematics but in different ways and types. This will depend on the type of car, its model, and its manufacturer. Common telematics systems found in most cars today include GPS navigation, remote diagnostics, automatic collision notification, and emergency braking or assistance.

Regardless of your car make and model, you can always utilize additional telematics to support your vehicle.

Roselin Manawis
Article by

Roselin Manawis

SafetyCulture Content Specialist
Roselin Manawis is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. She has experience in news writing and content marketing across different fields of discipline. Her background in Communication Arts enables her to leverage multimedia and improve the quality of her work. She also contributed as a research assistant for an international study and as a co-author for two books in 2020. With her informative articles, she aims to ignite digital transformation in workplaces around the world.