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Automated Intelligence: Then and Now

  • By Ryan Skidmore

The Dawn of Fleet Management.  In the mid to late 20th century, only large corporations and government organizations could afford fleet management, complete with a storage facility, maintenance staff, administrative staff, and the all-powerful fleet manager.  For most of this prehistory, all administrative functions were performed on paper, entered and retrieved by hand.  With the advent of computers, more records could be entered and retrieved, but regrettably, this upgrade was little more than a slightly evolved descendant of the former process.  It was a lot of work and it must have been boring.  Let us examine the typical case of Lee County, Florida.  Chronicled upon their website is a tale of yesteryear’s fleet management.  Privatized in 1982, meaning that fleet management was performed in-house for some years before that.  In 1990, fleet management was brought back in-house.  In 1992, a new facility was built on a 10 acre site, but that endeavor encounter problems: construction running over budget, soaring “employee cost”, and a fine from the state government to top this delicious ice cream sundae of an adventure.1  However, soon after, a new fleet manager was appointed. Costs were cut, employee morale picked up, and things improved in general.1  Present day, “Lee County Government’s Fleet Management Division is strong and financially stable” and all is generally well. 1  So… “What’s the point of this anecdote?,” one may ask.  Fleet management was an intensive and iterative process, requiring a big budget and multiple full time positions.  Now what kind of process is it?

easy-button

In the immortal words of the Staples button, “That was easy.”

The Day of Fleet Management.  The word, telematics, was first coined in 1978 in a report to French Prime Minister, created as a hybrid of the French words for telecommunications and information. 2  This concept takes us from the old paradigm of Lee County to a new world were all information is beamed to your computer and almost no administrative function is needed.   All of this in enabled by Machine to Machine technology or M2M.  Now a business with one or more vehicles can track the location of their vehicles, check engine lights, upcoming maintenance, when and how their drivers have been driving, and who is driving which vehicle for a price infinitesimal to what such capabilities used to cost.  Carmine puts the power of fleet management in the hands of small businesses in a way that was not possible until just the last few year.  And congratulations, you made it.  Welcome to the Future.

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