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Dirty Data: Not All Telematics Data Is Accurate and Useful

May 30th, 2017

Big data technologies have made it easy for organizations to get data from various sources so that they can analyze a comprehensive set of information that allows them to make sound business decisions.  However, data quality can be a problem when it comes to big data.  According to Li Cai and Yangyong Zhu in an article published on the Data Science Journal website, having high quality data is a prerequisite for big data, both in data analysis and in using the data for making decisions.  It will also guarantee the value of the data.  Meanwhile, they said, poor data quality can mean low data use efficiency, and might lead to wrong decisions.

If that is not concerning enough for you, then consider this: the Data Warehousing Institute has estimated that problems with data quality cost businesses in the United States at least $600 billion annually.  And if you think that you have good quality data, you should consider that in one month's time, around 2% of consumer data will be obsolete because customers change, move locations, marry, divorce, and even die.

 

The Effects of Dirty Data

Fleet managers might think that they are immune from having bad data quality.  After all, the kind of data you get comes from best of class telematics systems such as Geotab.  But poor data, or that which can be misleading, erroneous, or does not follow any general format, is gathered by all companies in any industry, regardless of its size.  In a Sirius Decisions survey, it was found that 25% of database records are not accurate, and 60% of companies said that their data is not reliable.

Furthermore, even if you are using the best telematics system, dirty data can come from a lot of sources, such as: 

  1. Data that is not maintained or entered correctly.  
  2. Poor data entry, or that which includes misspellings, typographical errors, and other similar mistakes.  
  3. Drivers or other personnel inputting data manually.
  4. Missing data, or compulsory fields that are left empty.
  5. Inappropriate data, or information that is inputted into the wrong field.
  6. Duplicate data.
  7. Non-normalized data, or those which do not conform to the system of records.

 

So What Happens When You Deal With Dirty Data?

You run higher risks of bad analysis.   Bad data can only give you wrong insights and eventually prod you to make the wrong business decisions.  Erroneous data can result in erroneous analysis.  For instance, if you have wrong route data, you might think that you are not covering a particular route when the truth is there are a lot of overlaps in that route.  You would then make routing decisions based on the bad analysis and waste resources on a route that has been adequately covered in the past.  Worse, it can create problems for your entire operation.

Missing data insights. Poor data can be a symptom that you do not have the right data to work with in the first place.  This particular effect can be very clearly seen in sales.  For instance, if you do not collect the right data, then efforts to detect and analyze sales trends will be futile.  

Take this case for example: if you do not take note of where your customers come from, you will not know how many of your customers purchase your products in your store, online or by telemarketing.  Without that data, you will not be able to say which channel is more effective, and you won’t be able to justify investing more in that channel.  To make sure that you have the right data, train your drivers on how to use their telematics devices as well as how to correctly input data should they need to manually enter.  This way, you can be sure that not only do you have the right, but also the complete, data.

Limited visibility.  Having dirty data can limit your visibility into your fleet's activities.  If your drivers are not recording the right data into their devices, the fleet manager will have no idea about their activities, as well as the problems that they face and the issues that need to be resolved.

 

Minimizing Poor Quality Data and Maximizing Correct Data

Be sure to make it a policy for your drivers to use the electronic logging devices and other telematics tools.  This will ensure that the drivers and other members of your fleet know that you mean business and that the use of these devices is very important.  A clearly written policy should communicate how the management should be keeping track and monitoring the logs, the disciplinary measures, as well as other related items.  

After you have communicated the importance of using these devices for your operations and for good quality data gathering, you should also train your drivers on how to use these devices, including telling them what types of logs are going to be kept, what information is going to be generated by these devices, and, if they have to do manual entry of data, how and where should they do it.  The training should also include the benefits of using these devices, how to operate these, and how to troubleshoot simple problems.

 

Work with Assured Telematics

Now that you have taken steps to ensure that your drivers and other employees are trained on how to input data as accurately as possible, as well as to implement policies on what data should be gathered, you need to ensure that the data you got is accurate and of high quality.  Assured Telematics can help you do just that by getting all your data into their own servers.  

Assured Telematics will review, scrub and analyze your data using top-notch tools such as Tableau, which is just one of the data analytics tools used by our team.  In short, you get the resources, the software, and the know-how to store, audit, clean, and analyze your data without even thinking about it.  

Assured Telematics has a variety of data analysis tools to help you gauge how accurate your data is.  For instance, it has a process to check if the Engine Computer's reports on the use of seatbelts are accurate.  This is important because seatbelt status is difficult to analyze as it differs from one car manufacturer to another.  

Another area where Assured Telematics can help is in ensuring correct zone placement of your geofencing initiatives.  You would need to lay down geofencing zones correctly in order to get the right data related to driver productivity and truck usage.

Furthermore, Assured Telematics has a dedicated team that is able to review and analyze posted speed limits, something that other telematics providers cannot reliably provide.

Finally, Assured Telematics has a variety of analysis tools to determine whether your drivers are using their eLogs system appropriately, as well as work with third party company such as Blue Dot who automate many driver processes which in turn reduces the chances for human error.

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