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Tips for good car maintenance in warm weather

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The warm weather is on its way… maybe! For some of us, it might already be here. For others (like us in the UK), the weather is notoriously unpredictable. One thing is for sure, the average highs we experience during the warmer months are on the up. In a country where highs in the 30s were considered extreme, this now seems to be the norm during our summer high.

For example, the risk of punctures goes up by 20% in warm weather – that’s surprisingly high!

Plus, I recently found out that roadside callouts increase by 20% (30% along the coast) when it’s hot! Furthermore, cars are 50% more likely to overheat in warm weather. So, what can we do to help prevent us from becoming part of those statistics?

Hopefully, the tips included below will help you keep your vehicle in good shape when it gets hot, hot, hot!

Tips for beneficial car maintenance in warm weather:

  • Check your brakes

    • If you notice excessive grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter, these could indicate a problem so get them checked
  • Pay attention to your car’s temperature and pull over if the light comes on or the thermometer enters the red zone

    • Driving even a short distance with an overheated engine can cause serious damage. Leave the engine to cool down before driving again and do NOT try to cool the engine quickly with cold water. A sudden change in temperature could also damage the engine
  • Your windscreen wipers might need some TLC too

    • Wipe away dirt and debris that might have accumulated. If they look a bit worse for wear, make sure you replace them (all that snow and ice can take its toll)

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  • Check your battery!!

    • While your vehicle battery could die at any time of the year, hot temperatures can have a particular impact. Consider getting your battery health checked before making a long journey! Or get a Redtail tracker (our devices monitor your battery health and send a notification if it looks like your battery is on its way out).
  • Give your vehicle a good wash!

    • The salt build-up on your vehicle from months of driving along salt-laid and snowy/icy roads can damage the paintwork. Why not show your vehicle some love by giving it a good thorough clean to wash that build-up away?

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  • Make sure your tire pressure is ok

    • Temperature fluctuations can affect the air levels in your tires. Either over or under-inflated tires can make you a risk on the road
  • Top up those fluids!

    • Remember to check, top off or replace all fluids. That includes oil, brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windscreen washer fluid

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  • Make sure your air conditioning unit is working correctly

    • If it doesn’t feel cold enough, get it checked. You might need to replace the air filters or get more refrigerant
  • Give your interiors a clean

    • Cleaning the inside of your vehicle can help extend the life of your vehicle interior. It’s the same principle as how washing and waxing the outside protects the exterior
  • It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit

    • Things to consider include water, phone charger and first aid kit. You might even want to consider some antihistamines/hay fever tablets if you suffer from hay fever! Hay fever symptoms such as excessive sneezing or itchy eyes can make you a risk behind the wheel.  Something to consider if you’re prone to suffering from these symptoms

first-aid-kit

Hopefully, you’ve found some or all of these tips helpful in keeping your car working in the heat.  If you think we’ve missed any, why not add a comment below to let us know what your top tips are for keeping your car going when it’s hot?

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Driver risk – are you 4x more likely to be in a crash?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hopefully, it’s no secret at this point that Redtail offers Driver Risk Scoring on the data generated by our devices.  In fact, it’s an area in which we invest much time, thought and resource to add ever increasing value for our customers.

As a company, we are very big on quality (read my Quality blog post for proof of that), and our Driver Risk Scoring is something we like to pride ourselves on.  We think it’s an impressive tool, but we would say that wouldn’t we?!  If you don’t believe us, why not let the data do the talking and see for yourself!

Exceptional quality data is something we always strive towards, always making continuous improvements to every part of the Redtail offering.

That’s why we feel so confident in the recent stats that we generated based on Redtail’s Driver Risk Scores analysis.  The analysis revealed some very interesting predictors when it comes to driver risk score and its correlation to the likelihood of being involved in a crash.

Highest risk drivers are around 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to the average driver (from Redtail’s pool of data).

High risk drivers more likely to crash graph

The graph also tells us drivers in the highest risk score band (91-100) 10x more likely to be involved in a crash than those in the lowest risk score band (1-10).

That’s right, highest risk drivers are TEN TIMES more likely to be involved in a crash than the lowest!!

Of course, the correlation is not fully linear as it’s real-life data, where there’s always going to be some randomness.  Also, even “good” drivers have crashes sometimes as even the best drivers can’t predict or prevent everything. This data just demonstrates that drivers with the highest risk score are more likely to be involved in a crash.

How do I know if I’m a “high-risk” driver?!

Good question!  There are some particularly indicative driver behaviors that Redtail can identify as part of the Risk Score analysis.

For now, I’ll explore 3 of these predictors… I think we’ll be here too long if I try going through them all (there’s a lot).  Firstly, let’s discuss Harsh Braking.  While this is a very common driving behavior, it is prevalent in drivers who crash.

By prevalent, I mean drivers who brake harshly are 4 times more likely to have a crash than the average driver, or more.

crash likelihood correlated with harsh braking

Definition time: Harsh Braking is triggered by a sudden decrease in speed against a predetermined configurable threshold. There are different threshold settings depending on the vehicle’s speed.

Next, let’s talk about Undue Speed.  Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous as it shows the driver is traveling at speeds higher than other road users typical for that road at that time of day.  This one is important because drivers who spend 8% or more of their time driving at Undue Speeds are more than twice as likely to have a crash. Driving at speeds below that of those around also adds considerably to risk.

That means you’re doubling your crash risk if you spend 8+% of your time driving above the mean speed!!

Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous graph

Excessive Undue Speed is dangerous as it shows the driver is traveling at speeds higher than other road users.  (N.B. Uses Redtail algorithm, not posted speed).

All I can say is, all this data is definitely enough to make me consciously consider how I drive.  I will admit, I’m a bit of a “square” when it comes to speeding.  I pay close attention to my speed to always stay within the speed limit.  If I had to be honest about my driving, I’d probably have to say it’s my cornering habits that could do with some work (or so I’ve been told – we all think we’re above average drivers though don’t we).

A Bluetooth key fob, telematics and the world of IoT

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The usefulness of a Bluetooth key fob in the world of telematics – an IoT story continues…

As you may have read in a previous post published a few months ago, Redtail recently launched a new product.  A product that Redtail quickly began to realise was strongly needed.  When conducting research based on customer needs and requests, we could find nothing like it on the market.

This product is Redtail’s Bluetooth key fob.

Redtail-Bluetooth-key-fob
This brilliant little device is small enough to hang on your keys (great if you’re prone to losing things like me!).  The device has a Bluetooth component that allows it to connect with other Bluetooth devices.  I actually have one on my keychain with my car keys.  I often forget it’s there… but then, I’ve got a pretty full keychain (trust me though, it’s necessary to prevent me from losing my keys!).
Imagine a universe of planets.  The universe is the possibilities of IoT.  Those planets the connected devices (e.g. Redtail’s telematics devices or your smartphone).  Those planets have lots of little moons floating around them.  Those moons?  You guessed it, they’re the Redtail Bluetooth key fobs!  The Bluetooth key fobs allow you to connect to your data without needing a separate device.  For example, you could connect it to the Redtail app on your phone using its Bluetooth connection.  They extend the possibilities of use and communication, entering ever further into the universe of IoT.

So, let’s talk about some ways Redtail has implemented these brilliant Bluetooth key fobs. Setting them to orbit their data recording counterparts.

There’s Redtail’s Driver Scoring app.  The key fob connects to your phone’s Bluetooth and uses the app to record journeys without needing a device.  The phone can be “activated” to track via Bluetooth – if a Bluetooth device (i.e. the key fob) comes within range of the phone, journey tracking can automatically be started. If the device goes out of range then it will automatically stop tracking.  This is far more accurate than relying on other methods such as geofencing or registering a change in GPS location.
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Redtail-Driver -App-journey-detail

Or, how about the key fob providing your “Driver ID” so your journey data can be recorded and associated correctly?!

Alternatively, there’s a Driver ID option.  When you turn on the ignition of your car, the telematics device in the vehicle turns on its Bluetooth and starts looking for the key fob.  Once found, the telematics device scans the key fob and confirms that it has the correct ID tag.  If it does then off you go, yay!  Oh and, in case you’re worried here, the “if it does” part just means it’s checking that you’re you, not that it doesn’t always work.
There are other use-cases that extend outside of telematics/vehicle communication. Which, I guess, moves even deeper into the realm of IoT.

You could argue, the only limit is your imagination.

Those considerations are perhaps for another time though.  There is still so much to explore in the context of telematics and driving scoring.  I think we’ll have some more fun here for a while… let’s just hope our engineering-minded designers and developers don’t develop too much of an imagination or we might really end up with planets and moons!  I’m excited to see how far we can get though.

Redtail Telematics announced as KOBA partners

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Redtail Press Release

Leading Telematics Service Provider Redtail Telematics has signed an agreement with Australian insurance pioneer KOBA as they launch the first connected pay-by-kilometer car insurance in Australia, bringing a fairer, usage-based insurance to Australia’s 10 million low mileage drivers.

Redtail Telematics is the exclusive provider of OBD devices, connectivity and data to KOBA

27th April 2021. Leading Telematics Service Provider Redtail Telematics has signed an agreement with Australian insurance pioneer KOBA as they launch the first connected pay-by-kilometer car insurance in Australia, bringing a fairer, usage-based insurance to Australia’s 10 million low mileage drivers.

As part of its suite of telematics solutions, this technology enables KOBA to deliver best-in-class, highly accurate and immediate journey data. Furthermore, the partnership underlines Redtail’s position as a significant player in the UBI market – in the UK, over one-fifth of all UK telematics policies (BIBA figures) are supported by Redtail Telematics hardware.

Redtail CEO Dr Colin Smithers said:

We are delighted that KOBA has appointed Redtail Telematics to provide the technology to support the first connected pay-by-kilometer car insurance solution in Australia. Our OBD devices and robust data capture technology ensures that KOBA has the most reliable technology to help support their launch and growth.

KOBA CEO, Andrew Wong commented:

Redtail Telematics has a proven track record of providing the most advanced telematics hardware, connectivity and data that support usage-based insurance solutions, so Redtail Telematics were the natural choice for KOBA. The support we have received from Redtail has been exemplary and has significantly helped with the evolution and launch of our product.

About Redtail Telematics

A leading Telematics Service provider (TSP) provider of telematics solutions to the usage-based insurance (UBI), automotive, fleet tracking, and stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) sectors globally, Redtail draws on its joint heritage with sister company, Plextek, the communications technology design house, and have together supplied over 6 million devices into the automotive aftermarket in more than 30 countries since 1993.

Redtail Telematics Ltd is headquartered in Cambridge, UK and, together with subsidiary Redtail Telematics Corp in San Diego, California, enjoys the unique benefits among TSPs in designing and manufacturing its own devices as opposed to purchasing them from a technology provider.

However, the company has expanded significantly beyond exclusively offering telematics device design and manufacture to offer a broad set of services – including APIs, portals, apps, all of which underpinned by the capture, analysis, and processing of valuable telematics. In short, a one-stop-shop for insurers and enterprise customers with control over the whole stack, vital for optimized and customized solutions.

Redtail devices and services are used by Admiral, ingenie, ByMiles, TRACKER Network UK, LoJack, CalAmp, Concirrus, Acorn and JLR, among others.  Visit www.redtailtelematics.com to find out more.

About KOBA

KOBA Insurance is on a mission to help over 10M Aussie drivers lower their annual premiums by only charging them for what they use.

Powered by a technology platform that connects directly to your car’s onboard computer, KOBA has created a comprehensive pay-per-kilometer car insurance policy, providing an alternative, fairer solution to low-usage drivers. With KOBA, drivers can see real-time trips, claims and car care tips through our app, and importantly, only pay car insurance when driving. If you’re driving less, you’ll pay less.

KOBA is due to launch in Australia in July 2021. Visit www.kobainsurance.com to pre-register your interest and join the pay-per-km movement today.

Women in technology – what’s it like?

Reading Time: 13 minutes

It’s pretty common knowledge that some industries are still very male-dominated.  I myself am very aware of this, working for a tech company that is 90% male.  I would say, however, that I have never felt held back or intimidated by my co-workers (I wonder sometimes if perhaps some of them are actually intimidated by me, ha!).  BUT, I know that my experience is, unfortunately, not necessarily the norm.  I am all too aware that many women, particularly in male-dominated industries, feel marginalized or discriminated against in their workplaces.

The tech industry is one of those male-dominated industries and I got to thinking recently, “I wonder how other women feel about this?”.  I recently had a chat with one of our Senior Software Engineers, Dr. Jocelyn Graham (who’s been working in the industry a bit longer than me), to get her perspective of what it’s like working in such a male-dominated industry.  She was also kind enough to provide some advice for women considering or just starting (or even her younger self when she started) a career in tech.

JGrahamSeniorDeveloper

What does your job role involve?

I’m a Senior Software Engineer.  Ultimately my job is about problem-solving. You work to get each step of the system sorted.  It’s extremely gratifying when it all works together.  The focus of any project needs to be the product or service; ensuring the system is configurable and delivers the right information to clients.  You know you’ve done something right if the system is still being used 5 years down the line.

What inspired you to choose a career in technology?

Strangely, I didn’t actually choose a career in technology as such.  It’s more that I had to use technology to achieve my aims (for example in controlling robotic equipment during my Ph.D.).  Once I became proficient in a few technologies I realized I had a marketable skill, which was great.  I realized that I really liked being able to build and control technology without being dependent on help.

Have any hobbies or interests impacted your career in a positive way?

I think my hobbies have been really influential and have helped me a lot actually.

I play the electric guitar and have played in bands since school.  My first band was spotted by a producer.  Everything that went into getting an EP together in a 24 track studio was a super induction into what technology can do for you musically.

I’ve gradually built up my own home recording studio, which has allowed me to have creative control in a way that has vastly improved my technical ability and arrangement skills.  This helped when I was doing some contract work for Nature Magazine who needed a voice-over on a project and I was able to get a really professional job done for them.

Other hobbies I have are skiing and scuba diving.  I also play ladies’ football; I find this is a great form of stress relief after a busy or hectic week, so I love it!

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HobbiesScuba

Can you tell us a bit about a “typical” day for you?

Hmm, we always have a short morning meeting – this allows the team to be aware of what work is going on and to flag up any potential blockers to progress. Usually, I look at the work planned for the week and pick something to work on. This might be testing something built by another dev, investigating new technology, or even trying to make 2 systems talk to each other or creating a new feature. There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t pick up a new trick to use.

Did you study an IT or technology-related subject at A-Level or University?

I studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics at A-Level, then Chemistry at University. I went on to do a Ph.D. in the mechanical engineering department of Imperial College London, sponsored by Ford.  This included working at the Ford research department in America, near Detroit, as part of my research.  As I mentioned before, I sort of fell into a career in technology as a result of the skills I picked up along the way.

Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

Yes, but perhaps not in the traditional way that you’d expect.

During my Ph.D., I was using robotic kits to simulate different engine actions. My chemistry knowledge was being used to formulate different oil additives to reduce friction within the engine.  I quickly realized that I couldn’t do the exact experiments I wanted unless I learned how to program the robot so I could do some non-standard tests. This was around the time the internet was just becoming important.  Companies were clamoring to make efficiencies using the internet, but the developers simply were not there.  So, during my Ph.D., I had a lucrative (we’d call it a “side-hustle” now) side-line in developing small internet sites for banks and various other clients.  This ended up being so successful I had to employ other students!  I ended up forming a business doing this on the side for about 3 years.  Not bad I think!

At the end of my Ph.D., I worked for the Global advertising agency “Publicis”, a company I’d carried out some contracts for during my Ph.D. The role wasn’t quite as technical as I’d like but it was a good opportunity to learn branding, web advertising standards, and so on.  I then went to work for Merrill Lynch investment bank.  I did this because I had no formal training in a programming language and, despite banking being a cutthroat industry, their hiring policy was forward-thinking; they wanted bright STEM graduates and offered training. Other companies wanted 3 years in x or y language which would only have been possible with a degree in computing. At Merrill, I became assistant vice president of the Prime Brokerage division.

Lab-Imperial-College

Do you think there are a lack of females in the IT and tech sectors?  If so, why do you think that is?

Yes. The IT tech sector (in fact any sector) should represent society. At the moment it does not, and the sector is all the poorer for it. Originally software engineering was pioneered by women like Katherine Johnson (NASA computing expert) or Ada Lovelace (who published the first algorithm to be used on a general-purpose computer). At the moment there is a cultural barrier to diversity in the industry that wasn’t so much there in the past.  We just need to bring the cultural thinking back to what it once was.

Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

Without a doubt!

I also find that the view of women and what we can bring to a role in IT or technology is fundamentally different.  There seems to be an assumption that you’ll be tangenital rather than integral to cutting code.

Also, an overconfident (more of a traditionally male trait) person is seen as technically superior while, admitting you don’t know something and will need to check before confirming (generally more of a female trait), is perceived negatively.  However, if you are willing to admit you don’t know something you’re able to learn and check your facts before potentially making any mistakes.  It should be seen as a big strength for someone to have the courage to check facts rather than making off-the-cuff guesswork in the moment.

What do you think is the best part about being a woman in tech?

I definitely think I get more of a mental workout than women my age who work in other industries.  Although, I suppose you could say that’s the case with men and women in other industries.  They have a skill(s) and perform that skill over and over all day  (al)most every day.  Over time, they just start to come home absolutely frazzled by the repetitive nature of the job.  As a result, they feel too tired to hear about their family’s woes.

I get to solve problems and use more of my brain than other women (and I suppose men too) my age who work in other industries.

What would entice women to study technology-related courses?

I think we are improving the numbers of women who study STEM subjects.  Could more be done?  Yes, I think so.   I think it’s getting that first job in tech that is more problematic.

There are plenty of reasons to study STEM; ultimately it IS a meritocracy at university.  If you can work out the answer you get the points, there are no marks taken off for an incorrect “style” and you don’t need to 2nd guess what the examiner’s opinion is on anything. Also, the value for money; if you take STEM you get hands-on technical experience, whether that is chemical synthesis, electronics or direct computing you already have some marketable skills. Courses where it’s simply tutorials and lectures – well… it’s hard to know where your course fees are actually going.

Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

Yes undoubtedly, you just have to look at the figures.  The split of studying a STEM subject at university is 30% females and 52% males. So, given this, we should be seeing 3 female CVs for every 5 male CVs.  In practice, we are seeing far fewer than this.  I believe this is for 2 reasons:

  1. Job specs – I think the way they are laid out and worded often puts women off (women are often far harsher on themselves about what their skill set is and tend to be less inclined to “talk themselves up”)
  2. Job interviews – the nature of tech-related interviews (e.g. being subject to a 2-hour grilling on language syntax), just tend to favor the male personality, similar to the reasons I gave above

What advice would you give young women today at the start of their career?

Stay technical. There will be many, many pressures for you to take on roles involving more soft skills: technical client manager, technical marketing, project coordinator, scrum master, business analyst the list goes on. ALL of these roles disappear in the event of a recession. In the 2008 crash, 90% of all employees let go from Goldmans were women. This speaks for itself.  Just consider marketability and job security, as well as what you enjoy doing most when thinking about your career goals and prospects.

What would you say has been your most exciting project so far?

Most exciting was definitely when Publicis won the contract for the website to launch the Euro currency. I was Technical Project Manager on this project, and I found it fascinating.  Our website was the go-to location for all businesses to find out how to switch currency, how to file taxes that year, how to detect a counterfeit note, and so on. The Greek government changed their mind 3 times on how they were going to write “Euro” and there was an incident where some of the vector graphics got scrambled and many Greek islands got dragged inadvertently towards Turkey!!! I got to see the currency over in Brussels before the launch (before anybody in the EU) and it was amazing to see the site up and running and the entire EU using it.

euro-currency

What would you say has been your biggest success?

At Merrill Lynch, one of my first projects was in the compliance department where we had just started trying to implement the concept of ethical investment into portfolios.  The users wanted to define complex parameters in English e.g. “Invest only up to 5% in fossil fuels unless this is balanced by more than 15% in sustainable energy fields”. I had to take the contracts we had and build a system to turn these limits into saveable, reusable, alerting systems so that the investments met the ethics of the investors.  Unknown to me, the bank was skeptical about someone early in their career taking on the project and had a fall-back position budgeted so that they could hire staff to do this work manually. Since they didn’t have to use this contingency and the system was a success I had effectively saved the bank quite a bit of money.

What would you say has been your biggest learning opportunity and why?

I think my current job has been my biggest learning opportunity. In this role, I’ve moved from backend development to full-stack, which means having a hand in development from the front end all through to the backend and really every part of the system.  In a large company you rarely get this chance so it’s often difficult to see the benefit to the end-users.  In telematics, we deal in big data and contribute to the knowledge of IoT (internet of things), which I think will be the future of quite a number of companies.  How we handle massive amounts of data and deliver targeted information to clients is a massive challenge and keeping order in your data with that volume is no small feat!

Top skills that anyone, who wants to work in Tech need?

I’d say first build a website for something that interests you – if you have a hobby or you know someone with a business, create something that adds value to that venture.  Even better, also build a database to store information – you’ll soon learn the value of storing your data in an orderly fashion.

These 2 things can probably count towards a computing GCSE if you are at that stage but if not, might be the only way to get experience to put on your CV.  Finally, I’d say a nice-to-have is to be able to mock up some UI in a graphic design package.  Schools are pretty good now at getting this into the curriculum.

If designing some UI doesn’t appeal, at least be able to do some cool birthday cards for friends – play with photos that kind of thing – it’s surprising how often you’ll need design skills in the workplace.

Your biggest role models?

I think it’s hard to look back at my school life and think of career role models – my job didn’t exist, and the internet wasn’t widely used until my Ph.D. years.

Dr. Phillipa Cann (AKA: international grease expert) who I had the pleasure of working within my Ph.D. was always an inspiration. Doing a career that didn’t previously exist and becoming a leading expert in oil technology is not easy, but she made it look extremely good fun.  I would also say Joan Jett (of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) was an inspiration.

DrPCann