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Redtail Telematics / KOBA pay-per-km partnership

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Redtail Telematics appointed by KOBA as they launch pay-by-kilometre car insurance in Australia

KOBA car insurance is led by serial entrepreneur Andrew Wong.  My intro to Andrew was initially through ByMiles and their SaaS platform ByBits.  Andrew and Andrew (that’s me) have forged a genuine partner relationship – digitally of course, as befits the tenor of the last twelve months.  That partnership has been built on a solid foundation of listening and understanding, speedy and substantial responsiveness, and honesty and transparency of communication.

Andrew-Wong-headshot

Andrew Wong, CEO & Founder, KOBA

‘We’ve really appreciated the way your team has just dove into the partnership with us.  It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.  You’ve really helped us fill in the ‘device’ knowledge gap that we have.  I’m ready and eager to get going with this partnership so we can get access to the data, APIs, etc, this way we are locked into working with you guys.’

Redtail-logo-and-Koba-logo

Gratifying.

Aside of the people bit, of course, REDTAIL had to provide what KOBA needed.  Which is best in class, highly accurate and immediate journey data – made possible through proven high quality devices, rich platforms for both journey and incident data and dynamic API access and support.​

And to quote the late great Karen Carpenter (well lyricist Paul Williams actually), we’ve only just begun.

Dialogues and activity are intensifying as we ramp up for a July launch.  From fulfilment logistics to packaging branding, claims portal capabilities to driver scoring, ideas and potential solutions continue to evolve. The partnership will continue to evolve also as market take up and feedback informs ways forward.  Shared values will underpin robust exchanges and testing of outcomes, but will move inevitably in the mutually desired direction of maximising opportunity.

Andrew Little

Marketing & Sales guy

 

www.kobainsurance.com

www.redtailtelematics.com

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!

Hobbies_ski

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

Quality Telematics: What’s in a number?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When considering which is the best telematics device for your needs, how high up on your list is quality? Is your answer “top of the list”? We at Redtail think it should be and so should you!

Quality should be top of the list when considering any and all products and services, including telematics.  I’ll admit, I might be slightly biased in my thinking (but when it’s about quality, I’m ok with that).  A major part of my role at Redtail is Quality Management of Redtail’s BSI ISO9001 Quality Standard accreditation.  Consequently, I’m faced with decisions about Quality almost daily (and you might think me crazy but I love it!).

telematics-quality-control

I’ve been at Redtail for over 6 years and I’ve worked closely with each department at one stage or another.  I’ve worked with the Development & Production teams, been involved in customer-impacting projects, managing our customer support, and currently focus on our marketing and quality standard efforts.  Even performing the marketing and quality roles, I still work closely with many of these departments.  I’m not telling you all this to brag (those who know me know that’s not in my nature).  I’m telling you because I think it’s important to identify how ingrained the culture of QUALITY is.

I have always felt I’m not alone in thinking that QUALITY is the most important aspect of Redtail’s business ethos.

Now, I hear you ask “Why on earth are you tell me this?”  but stay with me.  I know, this monologue about quality might seem a bit random but trust me, I have a point.  This (possibly strange) fascination with quality that I have made me wonder about our devices and data.  We pride ourselves on having what we consider top-quality products and data, so what does that data tell us?

It tells us that over 7,500 Redtail devices have been reused more than 10 times!

redtail-telematics-quality-stats

This is just a snapshot of the larger operation of Redtail devices; this is just a sample from one of our customers.  This particular customer recycles Redtail’s devices multiple times with their policyholders.  The device gets returned and refurbished and then gets sent to the new policyholder to plug in and use.  Importantly, the refurbishments are largely superficial (such as replacing outer casings that were damaged or scuffed by the previous user).

Great from an environmental (more recycling and less waste) and great from an economical perspective too!

To delve a little deeper, those 7,500 devices have, between them, driven over 800 million kilometres (500 million miles) averaging more than 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles) each.  That’s a significant amount of kilometres!

To put that into perspective, if you were to travel to that distance out into space, you’d actually travel FURTHER than Jupiter!!​

solar-system

Without the high quality standard of Redtail’s products, it wouldn’t be possible to recycle the devices so many times.  Furthermore, many of these devices have been active in various different vehicles since 2015!!  That’s right, 2015.  AND, they’re still going!  I wonder how many more miles these incredible little devices will record before their day is done… watch this space I guess (haha, space, get it)!

48v vehicle tracking – the adventures of a golf cart

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Redtail has been developing a 48v vehicle tracking system for use-cases such as golf cart performance.

We recently had a golf cart arrive at our head office just outside Cambridge for our developers to play with perform some more in-depth testing.

48v-golf-cart-vehicle-tracking-3

While en-route to our head office in the UK, the device fitted to the golf cart actually tracked its journey.  Why not take a look?!

Golf-cart-location-tracking

 

The golf cart started its journey in Reedsburg, Illinois, US, and spent a > 4,500-mile-long journey making its way to us.  Unfortunately, the golf cart battery ran out mid-voyage so only managed to track as far as leaving the US.  It’s something outside our little black box’s control but it was fun tracking it while we could.  Indeed, we work tirelessly to ensure our devices are top quality but we can’t control all external forces!

However, we can track your vehicle’s battery health and inform you if it looks like your battery needs a check.  A VERY handy tool that’s been particularly useful during the pandemic!  With our 48v tracking system, we hope to expand this use-case to other vehicles now too.

redtail-telematics-vehicle-battery-monitoring

 

With so many not using our vehicles regularly, it’s reassuring to know our little tracker is looking out for us.

While we might not have been able to track the golf cart’s journey, it did arrive safely at its destination.  And, of course, we were happy to receive it!  In fact, some might argue that the fun didn’t actually start until the golf cart reached our offices…

48v-vehicle-golf-cart-tracking-1

 

How do you get a golf cart off of a lorry?  Sounds like a simple question with a simple answer, but what if you can’t find the right tools?

Well, funny story, we ended up in an unusual situation when the golf cart turned up on the back of a lorry.  A bit of a misunderstanding meant the golf cart was delivered on a lorry without a forklift onboard.  Consequently, some of our Redtail staff went on a little adventure trying to track one down from one of our neighboring local businesses.

Thankfully, a local engineering firm was able to help us out.  So the golf cart went on a little extra adventure.  The lorry driver drove from the Redtail office to a nearby industrial estate where the forklift was used to offload the golf cart.

48v-vehicle-golf-cart-tracking-2

 

Remember I mentioned earlier that the golf cart battery had gone flat in transit?  Well, that added an extra obstacle when trying to get the golf cart back to the Redtail office.

As a result, we managed to find a local garage that was able to put the cart on a transporter and bring it back.  Luckily, it made it back to us again.  In one piece and fairly quickly, all things considering.

Plus, everyone involved now has a fun and entertaining story to tell… which we hope you enjoyed reading.

And here is a photo of the aforementioned golf cart sitting happily on the transporter in the Redtail office car park.  See looks happy sitting there in the afternoon sun having enjoyed a nice little adventure, right?

golf-cart-on-truck

 

Now, the next chapter of fun can begin looking at our 48v tracking… watch this space!

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, I just want to say how grateful we at Redtail are for all the help we received from everyone involved in our little adventure.

Our new Bluetooth Key Fob – an IoT story

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our IoT family has recently been expanded with the addition of the new Bluetooth key fob.  But what isn’t classed as IoT nowadays?!  Definition time:

‘Internet of things – connection through the internet of everyday devices to send and receive data.’

[Oxford English Dictionary]

This overused term has become a handy catch-all that perhaps confuses but rarely clarifies what a company is offering.  It is indicative that we do not hear a potential customer requiring an ‘internet of things’ solution.

what-is-iot?

 

Now I’d like to explore some clarity.

  • Internet connection – think we get that – but needs quality!
  • Everyday device – mmmmm……I’ve seen this expressed as ‘familiar objects that you don’t expect to be used in this way’ ?!?
  • Send and receive data – well yes.  But we do need the sense of quality (again) and value in that data

We were challenged by the question (and we like challenging questions), of how to assert driver ID as a security measure.  All manner of ‘answers’ in terms of components, sensors, form factor – but our preference is for a more expansive view.  By which I mean responding to the market and customer requirements while considering the possibilities of what could be done.

Redtail-Bluetooth-key-fob

bluetooth-connectivity

redtail-analytics-icon

We identified Bluetooth Low Energy as the most suitable connectivity solution.

First, we selected an off-the-shelf module that enabled ease of development and fast time to market.  Then we designed a circuit board for the most efficient and effective provision of driver ID, whilst also offering scope for future thinking.  The board was designed to accommodate environmental sensor technology to allow response to future requirements from innovative customers.

Redtail-circuit-board-design-process

Of course, there is opportunity in home, in pet and in vehicle, in sensing temperature, power, current, pressure – and more.

Additionally, we scrutinized power efficiency, and include one year’s worth of juice from a single coin cell.  To avoid limiting ourselves to component solutions, we have built-in flexibility throughout our platform in our own firmware and software.  This allows us to evolve in line with customer needs.  For example, the device, whilst starting off in driver ID mode, can be used as a beacon in any and all manner of applications, including integration with smartphone apps.

The Vehicle Asset Management (VAM) device sends sensor data from source to DataWarehouse via the mobile network.

redtail-telematics-vam-devices-solutions

More generally, data from wireless sensors to a database to a webpage – we really have only just begun.

I am sure that we all attend numerous conference events propounding the IoT ‘art of the possible’.  We prefer to be a little more pragmatic.  Thinking and doing and will continue quality sensors to deliver data of value to you and your customers.

Economical driver versus inefficient driver

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We all like to think we drive well (myself included), but how much of an economical driver are we really?  Furthermore, could you confidently answer what an economical driver actually is?!

Tell me, what would your answer be if someone asked if you’re an efficient driver?  In fact, what would your answer be if someone asked you what efficient driving is?

These are questions we’ve been discussing in the Redtail office recently.

Lucky for us, Redtail devices and data enable us to scrutinize driving behaviors and vehicle performance in some detail.  This, in turn, helps us offer a unique view on driving in an efficient and economic manner.

So, we decided to put together a list of tips and tricks we thought you’d find useful.  Maybe you could consider some of these the next time you go for a drive.  Go on, give it a go!​

Check your tyres

 

  • Check your tires
    • Underinflated tires wear out faster and lose energy
  • Maintain a consistent speed
    • If you have cruise control and you’re driving along a motorway – consider turning it on. If you’re driving along other roads, try to maintain as consistent a speed as you can.  Slowing down and speeding up all the time is inefficient
  • Try to reduce the need for unnecessary acceleration and braking
    • If you accelerate quickly but smoothly, acceleration itself isn’t inefficient. However, if you accelerate to a higher speed than the roads allow and have to brake, you’ll unnecessarily need to accelerate again… and if your speed gets too high again you’ll need to brake again and the cycle continues
    • Try to reach a speed that suits the road you are on and maintain it so you aren’t accelerating and braking more than needed. It can use a lot of fuel and be a potential hazard
    • In city driving, nearly 50% of the energy needed to power your car goes to acceleration

reduce unnecessary acceleration and braking

A recent UK government Impact Study on Intelligent Mobility offers compelling data on the impact of ‘eco driving’.  The findings indicated a 5-15% reduction in emissions; a factor that improves fuel economy too!

More tips and tricks:

  • Change gears at an appropriate time
    • Don’t stick in a low gear for too long as high revs can reduce fuel efficiency
  • Anticipate traffic and the road ahead
    • If you see a queue ahead or traffic lights changing color, try to slow gradually as you reach them not suddenly once you’re there
    • Slow deceleration (trying to avoid using the brake to stop suddenly or harshly) is much more economical and will reduce wear and tear on your brakes. So, it helps save on fuel and maintenance costs!
  • Avoid idling
    • It wastes fuel and gets you nowhere
  • Make sure you service your vehicle as often as the manufacturer advises
    • Vehicles with a less than optimal engine can use up to 50% more fuel and produce up to 50% more emissions than one that is running properly

remember to service your vehicle as often as the manufacturer advises