No plans yet for telematics

While IBM recently announced a US$125 million deal to provide ground-breaking automotive technology in the UAE, no decision has yet been made as to how it will be deployed, a senior executive close to the deal said last week.

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By  Peter Branton Published  May 8, 2005

While IBM recently announced a US$125 million deal to provide ground-breaking automotive technology in the UAE, no decision has yet been made as to how it will be deployed, a senior executive close to the deal said last week. IBM recently announced it was to provide CERT Telematics, a part of the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT), located in Dubai, with telematics devices (see IT Weekly, 23 -29 April 2005). However, Robert Richards, chief operating officer of CERT, said that nothing has been finalised as to how to use the technology. “Deployment is an issue we haven’t addressed yet,” he told IT Weekly. “What we’re doing with our contract with IBM is developing the technology. How it gets deployed is going to be a question of market push and pull.” Telematics devices are somewhat similar to the ‘black boxes’ fitted in commercial aircraft, as they can act as a mobile information hub and perform a wide range of functions. “We essentially see the solution as a laptop computer for the automobile,” Richards said. CERT has a mandate to contribute to the intellectual property development in the UAE, Richards said, and the telematics deal falls very much under that mandate. “It’s been proven as a technology. What we’re doing now is making that into a commercial product,” he said. CERT Telematics is currently in discussions with a wide variety of government bodies about how best to implement the devices and the system, Richards claimed. “There are all sorts of departments it could be viable for, it has a wide range of uses,” he said. Ultimately, CERT Telematics expects to roll out tens of thousands of the devices, with the aim of installing them in vehicles of all types. Richards identified a number of potential benefits of the telematics devices. Safety is an obvious factor, with the devices being able to monitor vehicle speed and provide information about changing road conditions. However, they could also be used as part of a global positioning system (GPS) solution, allowing the user to obtain information about the location of various services, such as emergency services or hospitals, or even details about entertainment and leisure facilities in the area. “These services are part of the value proposition for telematics users,” Richards said. “CERT intends to make these services available as part of the overall suite of telematics benefits to the end user,” he added. For IBM, the deal is being touted as potentially the largest the vendor has ever signed in the Middle East. Executives said the deal’s value could rise far above US$125m, depending on what services it sells on top of the initial contract.

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