Canadian Underwriter

Cloud-Connected Cars

March 27, 2014   by Laura Kupcis

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I started IMS in 1999 for the simple reason that I wanted to make cars safer through advanced equipment, which could be embedded into cars. For IMS, safety became a more comprehensive concept than just thinking about how to deploy an airbag. We wanted to create a brain for the car, which could, in addition to many other features, actually determine the size of the occupant; whether there was a child seat—and a child in that seat; and the number of people in the car; and subsequently deploy an airbag in such a fashion that it maximized the safety of each occupant.

Everything we do, every service we offer, is about making vehicles become connected to enable safety-centric connected car services. The challenge is that you need the car to be connected to the Cloud, you need both the Cloud and the car to have a brain to think and, finally, the car needs to talk to the human. By failing to look at all three foundations, you can miss out on valuable services and safety. Through our research, we have found a way to ensure the human-to-machine interaction is done in a safe manner. Furthermore, we grab data, analyze it and mine it, which enables more services and answers many questions. Over the last 14 years, we have created a synergy between the Cloud, the car
and the human, so they can co-operate in a seamless manner to enhance safety and to enable advanced services.

These connected car services include usage-based insurance. Insurers can benefit from the data and information to optimize the value proposition. Before, insurers used data, such as age, gender and location to determine a rate. Usage-based insurance would allow the data to be rich enough to provide an incentive to the end user to be safer.

Instead of insurers trying to resolve a driving mishap in the future, insurers are now able to say to their customers, “I am working with you to ensure that you are a safer driver to help prevent driving mishaps.” With the help of IMS, insurers can provide drivers with driving tips and information about their driving behaviour to help reduce the risk of accidents. We are able to provide real-time feedback, qualitative information and quantitative data to both the end user and partners to ensure safety. This includes a program to keep new drivers safe while they are learning to drive through online coaching and feedback tools.

Furthermore, the hardware—be it embedded in the car or in a plug and play device—can also provide car diagnostics, usage reports, information on fuel and battery, infotainment (including email and texting) and collect road tolls.

Based in Waterloo, Ont., we also have offices in the United States. We expect 2014 to be a big year for us as we expand into Europe, Australia and the Middle East. This, combined with our vision to expand our commercial fleet offerings and the increased adoption of usage-based insurance in Canada, will make 2014 a year of growth for IMS.

–As told to Laura Kupcis

Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.