Deadlines often seem to quietly loom in the distance, months away, until they’re suddenly upon you. The impending 3G shutdown in Australia is another example of this.
While many operators may not be ready for when Vodafone switches off its 3G network at the end of this year, or when Telstra closes theirs at the end of June 2024, as one of the world’s leading telematics providers, Webfleet is fully equipped and prepared to help operators transition to 4G.
“For operators that don’t act to update their fleet’s driver data systems, come the shutdown, these systems will stop reporting,” Webfleet Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) country manager Jonny Clarke told ABC.
“If fleets haven’t implemented a 4G transition process in time, then managing and maintaining driver safety will become much more difficult.”
Webfleet is at the forefront of vendors helping operators to act early and upgrade from 3G to 4G devices. Clarke says this change involves more than just replacing hardware – these systems also need to be installed and switched on to ensure no reporting for contractual obligations is lost.
While on the surface, the 3G shutdown may not have a big impact on passengers who hop onboard buses or coaches, Clarke says operators will be severely affected when 3G networks are shut off.
“Operators who have to respond and provide information feedback as part of contracts will no longer be able to access the data they need from devices,” Clarke says.
“When it comes to contracts for public transport routes, these operators will be in trouble.”
Although it’s not ideal for operators to have to update hardware to meet this change, Clarke says the 4G transition is a good opportunity for the industry. While it may be an administrative task to initially tick off, there’ll be plenty of benefits for operators once they switch to the upgraded network.
The main boost will come in driver safety and fleet management capabilities. Webfleet is preparing for this switch with its array of solutions and systems for buses and coaches that operators can invest in to establish more robust driver safety processes.
“Technology has advanced so much in recent years, think about how much phones have changed in that time,” Clarke says.
“There’s also been huge advancements in driver safety. This transition will help alert operators who are unaware to the evolution that is available in driver safety systems.”
Webfleet’s telematics and fleet management solutions can detect a wide array of details when it comes to driver behaviour, but through its OptiDrive 360 solution, Webfleet can quantify this data and provide more information and insight than ever before.
OptiDrive 360 offers dashboards that completely evaluate the behaviour of a driver, using the latest technological evolutions in AI, camera systems and vehicle data to signal in what Clarke refers to as “the next phase of telematics”.
“Being one of the world’s largest telematics companies, we’ve advanced our technology even further to help with driver safety,” Clarke says.
“With our CAM50 dashcam, the 360-degree feedback included can issue alerts when drivers are showing potentially dangerous driver behaviour, such as not wearing a seatbelt, eating, mobile phone use, or worse.
“This footage is then uploaded onto the cloud if it continues. A critical incident doesn’t even have to occur for these behaviours to be managed out.”
This is a cause Clarke is passionate about. Living in Queensland, Clarke says that Webfleet technology has been fitted onto more than 80 per cent of the local public transport network.
“It’s a really rewarding feeling to help the operators that we work with to improve their driver safety,” he says.
“It’s hugely important to phase out negative behaviour traits to take bus and coach safety to the next level.
“It’s worth more than just selling hardware and software, it’s about having an impact on the communities that we work in.”
Webfleet’s use of the latest technology, including the quicker 4G network, has now created a space that Clarke refers to as “proactive driver behaviour management” for operators. Instead of using delayed feedback once the bus returns to the depot to determine how a driver is performing on the roads, fleet managers can find out in real-time how drivers are acting on the roads and what needs to be done to keep passengers safe.
Clarke says a major part of these new additions to Webfleet’s fleet management and telematics technology is the potential that the 3G to 4G transition holds. Once the preceding network is phased out gradually over the next year and the focus turns to 4G systems, Clarke and the Webfleet team are expecting to take telematics to the next level for Australian operators.
“This new development in capabilities revolutionises driver safety, which is wonderful because it has such big implications for so many people, especially for buses and coaches,” Clarke says.
“When you improve driver safety, you improve the safety for passengers too.”
Learn more about Bridgestone’s trusted fleet management solution Webfleet here.