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SmartDrive video insights: the path to being more than just a camera company

This is another in a series of videos produced by FreightWaves and SmartDrive, recorded at the recent SmartDrive Customer Conference in Atlanta. FreightWaves editor-at-large John Kingston discussed several key issues in trucking and transport today with both SmartDrive executives and several conference speakers.  

Taking a company that has been known for cameras and developing it as far more than that is the challenge that Jason Palmer and others at SmartDrive have been undertaking for several years now. 

At the company’s recent Customer Conference in Atlanta, Palmer, the company’s COO, said SmartDrive sees its value proposition as not the cameras but “really our driving analysts who make all the difference.” In a video interview, Palmer said the trucks that are equipped with SmartDrive’s cameras also have “algorithms that are constantly running in the vehicle to capture all these video events, along with all the telematics information that is in the vehicle.”

It is the SmartDrive driving analysts who receive all that data, “ who then analyze that information and then add these observations,” Palmer said. “Like, did the driver merge safely into traffic. Having that extra context and being able to leverage that for things like a driver performance profile is really what sets us apart from those who provide just hard braking events.” It’s how you present the analytics in an actionable way and the workflow that goes with that is really what sets us apart,” Palmer added.

One development that SmartDrive has seen recently insurance companies starting to subsidize video systems installed through an insured company fleet, rather than waiting for the carrier to do it themselves. “They know that having video most of the time is going to be able to help them during the litigation process in reducing those claims,” Palmer said.

That greater penetration has been particularly helpful in an era of distracted driving, according to Palmer. Blind spot and side cameras allow the recording system to “see down the side of the vehicle,” he said, “and you can see those drivers on their cell phones. They drift into our trailer and then we capture that event. That’s why more fleets are going from our one or two-camera systems to adding side cameras.”

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.