The transportation industry is experiencing a digital revolution. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are showing up in everything from our cars to our homes to our cities. IoT is affecting the entire transportation industry — everything from cars, to boats, to even the way we insure these vehicles.

Look at the commercial transportation industry, for example. While the focus of the connected car discussion is often on private, consumer vehicles, the commercial vehicle industry may see an even greater transformation. IoT capabilities allow for commercial fleets to be connected to each other and to control systems, therefore giving fleet operators more data and insight into their vehicles.

Smarter driving

Connected solutions can help monitor vehicles for safety factors, control costs by monitoring vehicle usage, increase fleet efficiency, and deliver more responsive service to customers, enhancing the way drivers interact with other vehicles and the infrastructure. For example, take Digital Communications Technologies (DCT), a global telematics provider specializing in data for fleet productivity and connected car solutions focused on integrators and developers. With IoT capabilities, DCT can provide a one-stop shop for worldwide managed connectivity data services, offering fleet automation capabilities. DCT integrates devices and secure, centralized gateways to give customers simplified deployment, logistics, management operations, and device diagnostics. With the advanced, real-time data collected by connected devices with actionable intelligence and edge computing, DCT can help fleet managers make informed decisions to help improve fleet utilization.

Beyond vehicles, IoT technologies are also helping connect disparate elements of the transportation infrastructure ecosystem, like traffic signals and parking spots. Connected parking spots are of high interest worldwide — they can help reduce congestion and carbon emissions by giving drivers access to information about available parking spaces.

Safer boating

Connected solutions are not just limited to land transportation, either. Navico, an international marine electronics company, offers IoT capabilities in its GoFree product suite. GoFree Track, an affordable hardware system, features capabilities that allow fleet managers, technicians, and boaters to monitor and transmit information about their vessel, including engine hours, battery status, and oil pressure, in real time.

By tracking these on-board features, boaters can instantly access details about potential mechanical problems or areas in need of repair. For example, GoFree products can monitor bilge levels and alarms, letting boaters know if the boat is taking on water and allowing them to react quickly. The information from GoFree Track products is transmitted to the GoFree Vessel monitoring system, which gives boaters better access and control over the vessel. IoT services will continue to make a major impact in the marine industry, ensuring vessels of all kinds, from passenger boats to cargo ships, can operate more safely and efficiently than ever before.

Insurance customizing

In addition to benefitting vehicle manufacturers of all kinds, IoT also creates new opportunities for insurers. IoT services open up the possibility for usage-based insurance (UBI), which uses IoT technology to capture detailed data from in-car services. With UBI, insurers can set and adjust premiums based on driving behavior or mileage, rather than just claim history or demographics, helping insurers tailor products and services to individual drivers. Ultimately, this model can help improve vehicle safety and security — because drivers know their behavior on the road is being monitoring and their insurance is priced based on their driving quality, they may adjust their driving, leading to a reduction in accidents. Further, connected technologies can also help insurers easily track and recover stolen vehicles.

Reliable, global connections through trusted service providers will be an important focus for the drivers, fleet managers, and operators who are using connected services all over the world. Providers that can offer end-to-end managed solutions — including all service components, from hardware to telematics infrastructure to service operations — will be desirable for vehicle manufacturers and transportation authorities as they continue to implement IoT capabilities into their products and services.

As we continue to move into the new era of transportation, IoT services will be among the leading solutions helping to solve challenges, and they will open up endless possibilities for the entire transportation industry — beyond just the connected car.

Andrew Morawski is the president and country chairman at Vodafone Americas, a total communications provider.

Above: VB Profiles Connected Cars Landscape. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative effort between VentureBeat and Spoke Intelligence.) This article is part of our connected cars series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 250 companies by clicking the image.