Understanding telematics: What is it and how does it apply to the emergency services?

The science of telematics

The term 'telematics' was coined by merging together elements of ‘telecommunications’ and ‘informatics’. As such, it involves integrating communications and information technology to transmit, store and receive data from remote devices, over a network. Naturally, this also requires knowledge about electrical engineering and computer science, along with vehicular technologies and road transportation. GPS technology with mobile devices and computers enables the tracking of, and communication with, individual vehicles and their drivers across full fleets.

At APD, we focus on the application of vehicle and fleet telematics in particular.

Vehicle and fleet telematics

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Commercially, the term telematics is deemed synonymous with vehicle telematics. This describes the application of on-board communications services inside vehicles. When used with a fleet of vehicles, telematics helps control vehicle operations, giving information about their location and status. These systems facilitate an information exchange between a central location and individual vehicles in the fleet, such as police cars, ambulances and fire engines.

But how does it work? GPS tracking and wireless communications are the intermediary for transmitting information to and from a vehicle. This enables various services such as GPS navigation, roadside assistance, remote diagnostics and fleet management, amongst many more. Wi-Fi and mobile networks can also mediate, with faster wireless networks enabling more advanced services such as live video streaming.

Applying telematics: the emergency services

Telematics functionality is widely used in both the public and private sectors. Particularly of interest is its application in the “blue light” emergency service environment where it can be the difference in delivering the best public service at optimum efficiency, whilst ultimately protecting the front line.

Telematics supports the full organisation when it comes to emergency services. First and foremost, it enables those at HQ to get the right resource to the right place at the right time. They’ve got visibility of every resource in the field from the control room, meaning they can instantly dispatch the best asset to the incident for the fastest response.

Fleet managers can also reap the benefits, realising efficiencies and cost reductions through fuel efficiencies; mileage-related servicing; and discharging vehicles not being used to capacity. Finally, telematics helps manage driver risk as well as improve driver behaviour and driving standards business-wide. These outputs are of interest to a host of internal stakeholders within any force, including:

  • Operational staff whose targets are to improve safety and efficiency through measuring and reducing collisions and pushing cost savings. 
  • Training departments who should actively drive and measure improved driving standards and target remedial and refresher training where it’s most needed.
  • Collision Investigation Units who need access to comprehensive and reliable data to conduct post-incident reviews.
  • Professional Standards Departments and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who want trusted data about their fleet and staff to make better decisions.

Next steps


The transition to a telematics solution within your emergency service can be daunting. But don’t be afraid to change how your fleet is run. Telematics is increasingly becoming the norm in this environment, and the business benefits far outweigh the drawbacks of not doing anything to manage the fleet.

Find out more

Our telematics system Artemis could be just what you need to support your fleet operation. To find out more, call us on 01482 808 300 or email us at marketing@apdcomms.com