When we think about maps, our first thought immediately links to navigation technology, which is the most well-known functionality. No wonder, as it has radically changed our way of exploring new places: there is no longer a need to look at street indices and roadbooks while sitting behind the wheel.
While consumers have definitely benefited from the additional features brought on by the developments in the field of map-based navigation systems (for example, the increasingly accurate traffic jam predictions), B2B applications in the data analysis space are gaining traction too. The main benefit that map intelligence provides here is the ability to enrich data with contextual information. If one wants to develop a system that detects drivers' risky behaviors, with the goal being to suggest possible improvement measures, high-quality contextual data and efficient algorithms that extract the right insights are needed. Keeping in mind that harsh driving should always be avoided on open roads, the riskiness of this conduct is expected to increase in specific areas close to schools or hospitals and around pedestrian crossings in general. Contextual enrichment can provide the necessary transparency we need.
Thanks to our partnership with HERE Technologies, Swiss Re's telematics app Coloride computes several driving risk factors that exploit GPS, accelerometers and map data. But why did we decide to partner with HERE? Read on…
One of Movingdots' first products was a hardware-based fleet solution focused on truck fleets and logistics service providers. The main modules of the solution were a live tracking of location data and other vehicle sensors, a reporting tool (track visualization, driving and rest periods, exports) and a tour planning & optimization feature, including geofencing and messaging. But how would all of this information be displayed, if not on a map? Map service providers are a key component of any telematics-based fleet solution and we realized it in the early 2000s, and so we started scouting the market, searching for the right provider.
One of them was MapSolute, now known as HERE, with whom we decided to partner. In addition to the map for visualising positions and routes, which initially had to be integrated into the web-based solution as a Java applet, we made use of a second map service which provided the most important functionality for our fleet solution. Fed with the geo-coordinates from the vehicles’ tracking devices, the so-called Reverse Geo Coder API returned additional information such as street, postal code, city and other address features. We also used matrix routing as a valuable component of route optimization in early phases of the product.
Since 2013, we have expanded our product offering with insurance telematics, and the focus has shifted from optimizing logistics processes to evaluating driving behaviour. In addition to acceleration data from the vehicles or contextual data, such as addresses, road types, speed limits and delimitation of journeys within or outside urban areas became valuable information that contributed to the computation of a meaningful score for driving behaviour. With HERE as our existing map service provider, this data was easily available through API interfaces. It was tested and optimized for Movingdots' needs and eventually found its way into our product.
Since then, Movingdots and HERE have been closely cooperating. This relationship expanded to include Swiss Re, when they acquired Movingdots in December 2015. A few months later, with the use of HERE, we launched the first European client on Coloride, Swiss Re's flagship telematics app.
HERE services are used in different components of Coloride. At UX level, Coloride exploits HERE Route Matching service. This service matches the raw GPS positions from users' smartphones with the roads on which the user is driving in order to visualise a clean trip trajectory that is not affected by GPS noise. HERE Speed Limit information is used to highlight excessive speeding traits by colouring the trip with a scale that goes from green (vehicle speed under the speed limit) to red (vehicle speed much higher than the speed limit). In addition to that, HERE Geocoding is used to associate start and end trip GPS positions with street addresses.
Other core components of Coloride solution exploit HERE services in the back-end. In particular, TMR (Transport Mode Recognition) service which distinguishes between different types of transportation modes (e.g., car, motorcycle, train, walking) exploits HERE Public Routing and Geofencing API. HERE Geocoding is also used in the DPD (Driver vs Passenger Detection) service to retrieve country driving side (right, left). Another module called Detection Service identifies harsh maneuvers, such as acceleration, braking and cornering using phone sensors. The data is then validated with HERE contextual data. Other driving events, like harsh maneuvers at roundabouts or at intersections as well as U-turns are directly detected with HERE map data and then further characterised with accelerometers and GPS-based features. In the final back-end stage, the Scoring Service merges together driving events (car maneuvers and phone distractions) with contextual trip characteristics to calculate a driver score that enables the insureds to understand the risky aspects of their driving style and improve it through a continuous coaching process.
As part of delivering the global version of the app (described in the previous section), Swiss Re decided to localise Coloride in China at the beginning of 2019, under the name 瑞再车睿驾, as already described in this article. Since the HERE services were not yet available there at the time, using local map providers seemed the only viable option.
To support the launch of our mostly used feature (a service matching GPS coordinates on a route, even if the accuracy of the locations isn’t particularly high), we evaluated AutoNavi and Baidu with sample trips recorded in China. During this process, we were sometimes faced with routes that only partially matched, or there was a variation in the ordering of matched coordinates. Additionally, some advanced features, like querying street signs or the number of street lanes were not supported. Considering that our algorithms relied on this information, we could either use multiple map providers simultaneously for a complete feature set or disable some features in 瑞再车睿驾.
Around that time, HERE informed us about their plan to release their map services for China and we started to evaluate their beta version along with the other offers. Even with different coordinate systems, we could very easily test the Chinese HERE service as the programming interface was the same as the one we had been using in EMEA. The results looked promising, even for a service still in preview. Based on that consideration, we eventually decided to expand our cooperation with HERE to cover China.
A successful telematics product cannot prescind from a strong location services provider: besides trip visualisation, processing and enriching in the background are also becoming more and more important for a solution that needs to move with the times. It's with this goal in mind that our partnership with HERE has grown over the years in order to be ready to meet the challenges that the future of motor insurance will certainly keep on bringing us.