Telematics Glossary: 60+ Terms to Know

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Geotab, News Team

Get up to speed fast on telematics with this ultimate telematics glossary of important terminology from accelerometer all the way to zones. Whether you are new to the field or mastering advanced integration, bookmark this post as a handy reference for everything you need to know about telematics.


2G Network Shutdown

Major cellular network carriers have started repurposing and shutting down 2G networks, much of which were used for machine-to-machine communications, in what is known as the 2G shutdown. Due to the popularity of video streaming and other high-bandwidth activities, carriers needed to use these 2G networks to aid the stronger 3G and 4G LTE connections. One of the largest occurred on December 2016, with more coming up from other carriers starting December 2019. This means fleets need to make sure that their telematics carrier is also transitioning devices, if they haven’t already, to 3G or 4G LTE networks. (See also: LTE)



Vehicle tracking devices with 3G or third generation mobile technology have a number of key benefits over devices on 2G, such as faster speed, high-quality recording, more memory, over the air (OTA) updates and more.



The accelerometer is where much of the rich vehicle data comes from. It’s the electromechanical part of telematics device that tells the position (up/down, left/right, etc.) of the vehicle. This information is very important when reconstructing an accidentsince as it’s able to send detailed, forensic information about position, speed, and acceleration during the event.

Accident Reconstruction

Using accelerometer information, accidents can be reconstructed by viewing precise information about the vehicle surrounding the time of the vent. For example, in MyGeotab a base rule can be set up called Possible Accident that detects a change of more than 2.55 g-force in the forward/braking or side-to-side direction. This rule then sends an alert to the appropriate people that an accident was detected.
geotab accident reconstruction icon

Active Tracking

Using increased data logging frequency, Active Tracking is good for industries that need precise and immediate vehicle location, such as in emergency/medical services. Speed, stops and other behaviors can be seen by a dispatcher in near real-time to ensure a vehicle gets to its location safely. Watch a demo of Active Tracking in action.

Aggressive Driving (speeding, harsh braking, hard acceleration, hard cornering)

This is a type of high-risk driving behavior that can be tracked by a telematics device. Aggressive driving includes speeding, which has its obvious risks; harsh braking, which can indicate the driver was following too closely or distracted; hard acceleration, which reduces chance of reacting on time, not to mention isn’t fuel efficient; and hard cornering, which can also indicate distracted driving or even drowsy driving. Telematics can help curb aggressive driving, if fleets using the data provided to talk to risky drivers and build good driver recognition/rewards programs.

Alternative Fuels (propane, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol,

Alternative fuels is a broad term used to encompass all non-gasoline and non-diesel engine technology. Alternative fuels includes fuels such as propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), biodiesel, ethanol, and hydrogen fuel cell. It also includes electric vehicles. With any of these technologies, using telematics can help not only figure out which fuel would be best suited for particular vehicles or applications but then it can help benchmark and track the benefits received by switching all or part of a fleet to alternative fuels.

Application Programming Interface (API)

APIs are essential for integration of fleet management systems. An API is the language a computer uses to tell the system what data to pull. These languages must be able to talk to each other for an integration to occur. A good example of a successful integration is also seeing temperature tracking information on reefer units in your telematics dashboard.

Asset Tracking

Beyond the vehicle, companies have many other types of assets, such as heavy machinery, equipment, tools, etc. All of these can be tracked just like a vehicle. Using Bluetooth® technology, the location of assets can be shown on a map, geofences setup to reduce theft, alerts when an asset reaches a certain location, and so on.  

Autonomous Vehicles (self-driving cars, trucks, vans, buses)

With several “levels” of autonomous technology, the highest level is self-driving cars, trucks, buses and all. Using sensors, cameras, and telematics data to detect other cars and conditions around the vehicle, autonomous vehicle technology allows the vehicle to go without an operator. Many companies have research and pilot programs happening now but it’s likely still many years off to be a mainstream vehicle.


Battery Voltage

Battery voltage is one of the many items that can be tracked by a telematics system. By tracking battery voltage, you can better monitor the health of the vehicle.

Big Data

Big Data is all the information collectively that can be captured, not just of your fleet vehicles but other systems the data can be integrated with (such as smart traffic signals as just one example). The most important use of big data is advanced and predictive analytics, allowing you to make data-driven business decisions and increase your chances of catching potential problems.

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

Data Analytics is the process of taking Big Data and turning it into Business Intelligence, meaning all the data collected is turned into palatable, understandable reports that lead to actionable insights. These data-driven decisions are considered to have a positive impact on operations by finding inefficiencies, or identifying good processes and replicating them.


Connected Vehicles

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication are what make a connected vehicle. For example, a vehicle-to-infrastructure relationship could be a weather alert system sending a notification to drivers in the area. Connected vehicles is also largely part of how autonomous vehicle (self-driving car) technology is made possible. And some connected vehicle technology is already on the road today.

Cost of Ignoring (COI)

Opposite of return on investment (ROI), the cost of ignoring (COI) is the concept of what a company is losing out on by not investing in a technology that can have a high and quick ROI, and long-term returns.

Curve Logging Algorithm

The Curve Logging Algorithm is a patented algorithm used by Geotab to help with the large amounts of rich data that must be analyzed. The algorithm makes calculations to identify unnecessary points of data and discard them, while preserving the most important information.


With any type of data getting transmitted, there’s always the need for cybersecurity. The FBI, NHTSA, and NAFA have all expressed the need for greater awareness and action on cybersecurity with regard to connected vehicles. Learn about some best practices for cybersecurity in telematics here.

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Data Feed

The Geotab Data Feed is essentially all the data coming from the Geotab GO device. The Data Feed is what makes the data easily accessible to integrated third-party applications via the API. (See also: Application Programming Interface and Software Development Kit)

Data Privacy

Strong data governance in telematics is essential to protecting the privacy of personal and vehicle data. The issue of data privacy is also linked to the current conversation in the transportation industry over who “owns” the data coming from your vehicle. Read why every company should be thinking about digital responsibility and data privacy.

Data Visualization (dashboards, etc.)

Data Visualization is what brings the data coming from the telematics device into an understandable “dashboard” on the computer. It trends the data out, such as daily idling averages, the safest drivers over the last month, average fleet MPG, and so on. Data visualization is how fleets are able to pinpoint actions and decisions out of the data.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a global movement in the business economy, which includes the adoption of technology, automation, and connection to real-time data for process optimization and increased competitiveness. Examples of digital transformation is the movement toward cloud data storage.

Driver Feedback

There are two types of driver feedback when talking about Geotab telematics. Traditional driver feedback is that of a manager speaking to a driver about their good and bad driving behaviors by using information from the telematics system. The second type is through an additional Geotab Marketplace integration with Mobileye, in which the driver will actually receive real-time audible and/or visual alerts about their driving, such as if they’re following too closely.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy Driving isn’t talked about as much as distracted driving or drunk driving, but it has just as serious consequences. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a driver who has slept less than 4 hours is 11.5 times more likely to crash than a driver who has slept the recommended 7 hours.

Duty of Care

Duty of Care is the assumed and legally mandated responsibility and liability they have when it comes to doing their due diligence to keep drivers safe. While every country has their own versions of legislation and laws, the bottom line is companies must take steps to ensure the safety of their employees.


Electric Vehicles

There are several types of electric vehicles, with the most common being hybrid electric vehicles that don’t require getting plugged in (called plug-in hybrid electric). These vehicles, such as Toyota Prius, still run on gas but use technology such as regenerative braking to help make that fuel tank last a little longer. This is also not to be confused with all-electric (i.e. battery electric) vehicles that use no other type of fuel besides electricity and have a more limited range. Read more here about the technical reasons behind hybrid electric vehicles and what makes them more efficient than their all-gasoline counterparts.

Electronic Logging Device (ELD)

An electronic logging device, also called an ELD, is technology for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to automatically record driving time and Hours of service (HOS) records and capture data on the vehicle’s engine, movement, and miles driven. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated the use of ELDs for the commercial truck and bus industries as a means of improving road safety, strengthening compliance, and protecting commercial drivers. To learn more and see the compliance timeline, read this Quick Guide to the FMCSA’s ELD Mandate.

Engine Diagnostics

Engine status data for all major engine protocols, such as rpm, voltage, fuel usage, coolant temperature, and fluid levels, can be communicated through the Geotab telematics device which plugs into the OBD II port. These on-board engine diagnostics come in the form of diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that can be specific to an OEM.

Engine Hours

Engine Hours are different from what’s tracked by the odometer, which is actual miles driven. The odometer doesn’t include time idling at a stop light, for example, whereas Engine Hours tells you the actual hours an engine has run. In high-idling applications, this measurement can help provide more accurate maintenance parameters. This is also how electronic logging devices (ELDs) are able to automatically log driver hours. Read more about engine hours and idling here.


Fuel Usage

This measurement is how much fuel is consumed by vehicle. This information can also be seen for the entire fleet. Learn more about how Geotab measures fuel usage here.



Gamification is the concept of turning safe driving habits into a game or competition. Using the MyGeotab software, managers can see the top safest drivers and use that information to reward good driving behavior and create friendly competition among drivers. Read how fleet gamification works.


Geofencing allows managers to create zones of various types such as an office or customer location. For example, if a certain vehicle shouldn’t leave a particular jobsite, a fleet manager could set up a geofence for that vehicle around the area it should stay in. With exception reporting, the manager can then receive alerts if that vehicles travels outside the geofence. A technical services engineer explains how to create a zone in MyGeotab here.

Geotab GO Device

The Geotab GO is a small, plug-&-play telematics device for fleet management with state-of-the-art GPS technology, g-force monitoring, GEOTAB IOX expandability, and engine and battery health assessments, and industry leading data security.


Measured by an accelerometer, g-force is the movement of the vehicle and acceleration, whether left/right, up/down, forward/back. This information helps fleets reconstruct accidents. Read all about g-force and how it helps understand dangerous driving behaviors here.

GPS Fleet Tracking

GPS Fleet Tracking is what tracks the location of the vehicle. For Geotab, GPS tracking includes much more than “dots on a map” but tracks driver behavior and vehicle health. Read here about the basics of GPS fleet tracking from Geotab.

gps tracking icon with van

Green Fleet

“Green Fleet” is a term used to reference fleets with sustainability initiatives and are on a mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These fleets typically use telematics to aid their efforts, such as reducing idling, better tracking emissions fault codes, figuring which applications would be good for alternative fuels, and more. Telematics goes hand in hand with the green fleet movement.


Hours of Service (HOS)

Hours of Service (HOS) are the regulations in the commercial vehicle industry, namely for over-the-road fleets but it does cover many commercial vehicle drivers, that govern how many hours drivers can drive and when they must take breaks. This is the regulation that is undergoing changes to how drivers log their time, known as the electronic logging device (ELD) rule.


International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is a fuel tax paid by interstate commercial carriers. The purpose is to use the funds to help keep U.S. and Canada highways funded and maintained. There are 48 American jurisdictions (states) and 10 Canadian jurisdictions (provinces) that are currently members of IFTA. Telematics can significantly help with IFTA compliance and reporting by tracking miles and fuel use.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the trend toward “smart” products, from smart products in your home such as refrigerators and lights, to products used in transportation such as smart traffic signals that can modify signal timing based off traffic flows throughout the day. Other example of IoT in the automotive industry are car sharing companies, where a user can reserve, unlock and rent a vehicle through an app on their phone. Read more here about how IoT is affecting the automotive industry.

In-Vehicle Coaching

In-vehicle coaching is when a device inside the cab of the vehicle is able to alert drivers whether through audible and/or visual alerts to the operator about their driving. Geotab’s GO TALK is an example of this. It provides verbal coaching in near real-time, helping improve fleet safety. It does this by tracking harsh cornering, speeding and other risky behaviors and let a driver know immediately that they should modify or change a behavior. Managers can also add custom rules and alerts. Read more about GO TALK here.

go talk in-vehicle coaching

IOXTM Technology

IOX technology allows Geotab GO input/output device expansion. It allows you to plug into the device and further its capabilities using other add-ons. Geotab GO TALK is an example of IOX technology, in which the GO TALK device is plugged into the Geotab GO device (which is plugged into the vehicle’s OBD II port – see separate glossary entry) and then sends driving tips and behavior alerts to the operator in real-time.



Long term evolution (LTE) is likely something most have seen on their cell phone’s network coverage either next to or in lieu of “4G.” That’s because the two are interchangeable. It’s to date the highest publicly available cellular communications speed and has become more and more popular with the increase of video streaming. Machine-to-machine (M2M) devices don’t necessarily need 4G LTE but with the 2G network shutdown, telematics companies like Geotab are working to figure out how to keep device and network costs down while still functional over higher speed networks like LTE. (See also: 2G)


Machine Learning

Machine learning is what makes modern predictive modeling possible, meaning that through historical data, a computer/artificial intelligence can learn about what’s most likely to happen next. Machine learning is one aspect to autonomous vehicle technology that makes it more than just sensors and cameras. It can continue to learn more and more about the roads it travels on and use that for later trips when the vehicle is on that road again.

Man Down System

A man down system is a hardware Add-On for Geotab telematics, also known as a lone worker GPS safety monitoring system. This solution can be used by employers to support compliance with Lone Worker regulations, in industries such as utilities, HVAC or remote service repair. Learn how it works in this post.

Management by Measurement

“Management by measurement” is a phrased use in business to mean data-driven business decisions. In essence, in management by measurement, businesses use analytical tools such as vehicle telematics to then make future decisions about operations. Examples of this would a driver rewards program using driver behavior reports from a telematics system or a trucking fleet realizing it would be cheaper to add in-cab heaters in trucks that operate where it’s cold than to have them idle to keep the heater on while parked.


The Geotab Marketplace is where customers can easily browse all the additional add-ons and integration partners available through Geotab’s telematics device and services. From real-time driver coaching add-ons to accident reconstruction, there are many types of add-ons and integrations available at the Geotab Marketplace. Read more about the Marketplace and how it works here.  

geotab marketplace icon

Mobile Workforce Management

Mobile workforce management (MWM) is a phrase used to encompass not just the fleet and drivers but the entirety of mobile operations at a business, government agency, nonprofit, and so on. This could also include remote employees working at small satellite offices or from home, and with the advent of on-demand services, the mobile workforce is growing. But productivity can be a challenge with a mobile workforce. That’s why with the right MWM tools, the mobile workforce can still be transparent to managers on what’s happening out on the field, from hours logged to fuel used, route driven and more.


Mobileye is an autonomous vehicle technology company focused on collision avoidance systems. Mobileye’s technology is used behind the scenes in many of today’s autonomous vehicle solutions from automakers — 27 of the world’s auto manufacturers to be exact. As an aftermarket product, fleets can add this technology to help reduce collisions using Mobileye’s sensor technology by providing real-time driving feedback through audible and/or visual alerts in the cab. Mobileye is available as an add-on in the Geotab Marketplace.


MyGeotab is the fleet management software that pairs with the Geotab GO telematics device (though the software is device-agnostic and can be used with other telematics devices). The web-based, scalable software provides dashboards to actually view the data and trends about a fleet, view and export reports and benchmarking data. MyGeotab is at the heart of what makes the system friendly for the end user and brings value to fleet operations. View the MyGeotab Product Guide here.


Nearest Vehicle

Using telematics, fleets can improve dispatching by seeing on a map the nearest vehicle to a particular location. For example, maybe a service fleet gets an emergency call. Instead of bothering each mobile worker to see if they can respond to the job and exactly where they are, a dispatcher can easily see which vehicle and worker is closest to the job and dispatch and route them straight from where they are. Read more here about how MyGeotab software lets you dispatch the nearest vehicle. 



On-board diagnostics port (OBD-II) is what allows aftermarket devices such as Geotab GO device, to tap into the engine control module (ECM), which is essentially the brain of the vehicle. This is how, for example, Geotab is able to send alerts about vehicle diagnostic trouble codes or that a driver is speeding. Read all about the history of the OBD II port, the role it plays in telematics and fleet management, and how it’s important to keep it accessible for business intelligence.


The odometer in a vehicle are the actual miles driven. This is not to be confused with a vehicle’s actual engine hours.

Open Platform

Open platform means a telematics system which provides open or free access to the data through a software development kit (SDK) and application programming interfaces (APIs). In contrast, a closed platform may have vehicle manufacturer specific hardware and the access to data is limited or filtered. Open platform users have flexibility for integrating telematics with their other business systems, and using partner vendor devices, or third-party applications and solutions such as from the Geotab Marketplace. Find a longer definition of open platform in this blog post and read about its advantages in this white paper.

Over the Air (OTA)

Over the Air (OTA) testing evaluates the performance of the integrated antenna on a telematics device (and many others) to understand the safety and risks behind using a particular type of device — consider all the safety labels seen on electronics in general. This particular test makes sure the device meets the minimum levels of radiation (total radiated power) and sensitivity (total isotropic power) and is only one of three main aspects of testing these types of devices. Read more here. 



Plug-and-play is the type of device and describes the installation for a Geotab GO device, meaning you can plug the device in and will immediately begin seeing information from the vehicle, depending on the type of vehicle. Harnesses are also available for specific installations. Learn more in our Geotab harness guide.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is the scheduled maintenance to regularly check a vehicle for potential problems. Getting the oil changed is just one part of a preventive maintenance check. Other tasks include checking all fluid levels, brakes, tires, and so on. Telematics goes hand in hand with preventive maintenance because fleets can keep track of maintenance scheduling and even get alerts with the engine triggers a diagnostic trouble code, which means there could be something wrong with the vehicle. Fleet can then get the vehicle into the shop, while a technician can already diagnose the problem before the vehicle even gets there.

geotab repairs icon


Remote Diagnostics

Remote diagnostics through telematics provides alerts on diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that are generated by the engine’s computer (aka the engine control module). DTCs in modern engine technology are the engine’s way of tracking issues, from low voltage to low fluids and so on. These can be sent to technicians with different levels of severity, the fault description, and recommendations for action such as taking the vehicle immediately to a technician. The technician can then already be prepared for what’s wrong with the vehicle and ensure the right parts are in stock, decreasing vehicle downtime.



Scalability means being able to increase in size and strength as a business evolves and grows. For Geotab, providing fleets with flexibility, security, and robust management tools and mobile apps is critical to supporting growth. (See also: SDK)


A scorecard can be used for drivers to help management and drivers get a gauge on their driving habits. Many drivers are unaware of sloppy or unsafe driving habits, so using driver scorecards have been shown to improve these driving behaviors. By using gamification and the data from the telematics system, fleets can empower drivers to be safer on the road. Geotab has many options available for driver scorecards.  

Software Development Kit (SDK)

software development kit (SDK) is the tools, information, and examples given to other software developers on how to work with the data. The SDK along with APIs enable what’s called open platform telematics. Not all SDKs are created equal. Learn why and watch a video about the Geotab SDK here. (See also: Open Platform)

Seat Belt Usage

Seat belt usage can actually be tracked by a telematics system such as the Geotab seat belt report, which lets managers know which drivers aren’t using their seat belt. It can also be used as part of the Geotab GO TALK in-vehicle coaching add-on. (See also: In-Vehicle Coaching)

seat belt detection telematics icon

Smart City

As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, smart cities leverage smart infrastructure and connected devices to solve urban challenges like traffic congestion, growing populations, and public health and safety. Telematics and urban analytics are the building blocks of smart cities, by providing municipalities with a real-time view on city operations and conditions. Learn how Geotab telematics connects to the smart city revolution.



Telematics is the monitoring of a car, truck or another type of equipment or asset with a device that collects GPS location, vehicle speed, driving behavior, and other engine data to record movements on a map. Read our topic overview: What Is Telematics?

Third-Party Device Integration

The ability to connect partner devices to the Geotab platform so they can be viewed alongside Geotab GO telematics data in the MyGeotab web app, to allow common rules and reporting over the entire group of devices. Read a deep dive on integration here. (See also: IOX Technology and Open Platform)


Vehicle trips from point A to point B can be tracked by telematics and viewed from a fleet management software portal or app. In Geotab, a trip is defined when the vehicle starts moving to when the vehicle starts moving again after a stop (when the vehicle ignition is turned off, or when the vehicle has a speed of less than 1 km/h for more than 200 seconds).


Urban Analytics

Urban Analytics attempts to filter and visualize all the data coming into the various data systems in a Smart City. The systems by themselves don’t necessarily lead to actionable data but urban analytics brings it all together so that cities can focus on areas of improvement, modify programs with more agility, and track progress. (See also: Smart City)


Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) assigned to every vehicle is what tracks the vehicle throughout its life, no matter who owns it. For large fleets, keeping track of these can be a pain. VINs are important since they can also tell you if there have been any recalls on the vehicle, for example. MyGeotab has a VIN lookup tool to help manage VINs.



Creating a zone is a key functionality in telematics software and allows fleet managers to track metrics on productivity, such as how long a truck was stopped at a customer location for a drop-off. (See also: Geofencing)

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