How to access vehicle telematics data

As specialists in telematics data acquisition, we often get asked by hardware and software providers “how can we access the telematics data?”. To answer this question, we’ve outlined three possible avenues that you can take, including working with VINVOX.

In brief, if you’re building a telematics-based solution, gaining access to the data requires expertise, infrastructure and significant time investment. This is why VINVOX specializes in data acquisition – to help our clients speed up the developmental process as they launch new telematics-based products into the market.

Depending on the intended use-case for your solution, the size of the fleet you are serving and the resources you have access to, here are three options:

1. License the data from OEMs

2. Retrieve the data yourself

3. Work with VINVOX, a telematics data provider

License the data from OEMs

For those building a vehicle diagnostic scan tool, it is possible to enter licensing agreements with OEMs to access the data. For example, through membership at the Equipment and Tools Institute (ETI), some OEMs will license the telematics data under certain conditions. If the data they offer meets your solution’s needs, this may be an option for you.

Keep in mind the following factors when considering this route:

Licensing telematics data from OEMs is made possible through organizations like ETI, who facilitate the programs. However, OEMs are not obligated to participate. Contracts and relationships with OEMs need to be managed, which may require a significant effort if you need data from multiple OEMs.

The data that OEMs provide may not be consistent. OEMs can choose which data they are willing to offer and how they will share this information. This can become a resource-intensive process to compile, standardize and manage the data from each OEM. A level of expertise and effort is needed to continuously organize, revise and update your records as formats and support can change over time.

The fees associated with licensing the telematics data can be significant to a small business. For example, General Motors’ data stream license costs $50,000 per year (ETI). Some OEMs make membership with ETI a prerequisite to apply to their telematics data program. If cost is a major constraint in building your telematics solution, this is something to consider when evaluating your options.

In summary, If your solution supports many different vehicle make, model and years, you may run into challenges gaining access to all of the specific parameters you need. Deciphering the data provided by the OEMs then requires an experienced engineer to standardize the information into a common language. Finally, the associated costs with managing contracts and paying access fees are a significant factor to this route, not to be overlooked.

Retrieve the data yourself

Telematics service providers have the option to locate the parameters they need themselves if they have the expertise and resources to do so. While this allows you to have ownership of the data, the know-how, time and resources that must go into this process are significant.

The telematics data acquisition process is complex. Specialized tools and training are necessary to understand how the vehicles communicate and where to find parameter data. This is foundational to be able to extract useful information and produce testable and repeatable results. For example, VINVOX has spent years working on TPMS, which is a highly challenging parameter to locate. We recently discovered an anomaly when it came to vehicles from a very common manufacturer. As a result of what we learned, we have reconfigured our approach with our existing TPMS parameters to make the process more consistent from make to make.

You’ll need to decode the VINs. Telematics solutions often rely on a third-party supplier to convert a VIN into a set of attributes that describe the vehicle type. These attributes are used to assign the appropriate set of telematics parameters. There are often inconsistencies in the data reported when working with a third-party solution. Acquired knowledge and additional effort are needed to identify the characteristics to look for to effectively classify the vehicle type.

Telematics parameters can change year over year, as the electronic components used in those vehicles are replaced or modified. Parameters must be revalidated and often redetermined yearly for every model to ensure accuracy and to discover new functionality. This requires continuous scanning efforts as new model years are released, which is a resource-intensive process to maintain.

Gaining access to all the variations of vehicle makes, models and years you need to scan and test may present a significant barrier when considering time-to-market. It may take years to gain access to all of the vehicles you need. VINVOX has spent nearly 11 years scanning vehicles and just recently hit our 3,000 make, model, year milestone!

If you plan to access telematics data yourself, consider the licensing and maintenance costs for specialized tools and related software to ensure the latest technology on late-model vehicles is accounted for.

Assembling the resources and team of experts to access the telematics data yourself is no small task. This is why we have dedicated 10+ years to testing, developing and understanding telematics parameters to create an ideal solution for our clients.

Work with VINVOX

VINVOX saw an opportunity to alleviate a problem for telematics-based service providers. Our focus is highly specialized on data acquisition so that our clients can allocate valuable time and resources elsewhere on their telematics product, whether that be hardware or software.

We’ve dedicated over a decade to researching and understanding telematics data and all of its complexities. As a result, we’ve amassed a database of +100,000 parameters that our clients can access.

To ensure the accuracy of our data, we are continuously re-scanning vehicles to revalidate our implementations as things change. The location of data points can change in a new model year, even if there are no platform changes or refreshes done to the vehicle. This requires constant monitoring and in-vehicle testing to ensure our data is as accurate as possible.

To access all of the vehicles we support, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with several local companies including dealer groups, auctions, and independent fleet owners. These partners have contributed greatly to our success by allowing us to seek out new vehicles daily and revalidate existing ones.

We have invested heavily into owning the data acquisition process to create a level of consistency that our clients appreciate. Through years of developing systems for locating, testing and validating the parameters, we’ve built a reliable solution that our clients can count on across many makes and models.

Final Thoughts

In summary, we aim to shed light on the challenges you might face when licensing the data or accessing it yourself, and offer up some of the reasons why we’ve set out to tackle this problem for our clients.

Licensing the data from OEMs requires consolidating and managing the data and the contracts. However, it offers an option to those building a diagnostic scan tool who are members of ETI or other organizations offering similar programs.

Accessing the data yourself requires a great deal of expertise and infrastructure to locate, validate and manage the data. This option allows you to own the data and process but is resource-intensive and can slow down your time-to-market.

Working with VINVOX alleviates the need to build the systems and know-how to effectively capture the telematics data you need. If you’re interested in learning more about our expertise and coverage, get in touch, we would be happy to answer your questions.

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