Using IoT to Stop Distracted Driving
Ready Mobile and Katasi Panel
This Ready Mobile session explores how IoT solutions can effectively address an increasing problem in society today: distracted driving. The pervasive use of a mobile phone while driving has become the leading cause of vehicular accidents today, spawning awareness campaigns and tech solutions with little effect at curtailing this often deadly epidemic. In this session, Ready Mobile discusses the launch of its safe driving solution powered by Groove™ to resolutely combat distracted driving by effectively shutting off distractions before they even reach the mobile phone.
Deputy Edward Catich, a father of four, works for the Sheriff’s Department of Northern Illinois. He has responded to car accidents where investigating cell phones found on the scene showed that the drivers had been using their phones at the time of the crash. When the victims of the accident were a similar to age to his own children, Deputy Catich said he knew he had to do something and this is when he contacted Scott Tibbitts at Katasi.
Scott Tibbitts, CEO at Katasi Inc., said he has had his own experience with the effects of distracted driving when he was supposed to have a meeting with someone who died in a car accident related to distracted driving on his way to the meeting. He said he knew they needed a technical solution. App-based and legislation solutions wouldn’t work and they needed something that provided a connection between the cloud and the vehicle. The solution needed to know when the car is moving and who is driving, then connect with a carrier and stop notifications from the network level. The key piece was for a provider to expose their technology to work together — and that is where Dennis Henderson came in.
Dennis Henderson, CEO at Ready Mobile, said distracted driving was one of his concerns when his youngest son started driving and he was looking for solutions. He said being in a business where they have access to mobile devices for companies, there must be a way to fix it. His “a-ha” moment was learning about Katasi’s similar efforts and they developed a close partnership very quickly. In the wireless ecosystem, Ready Mobile had pivoted from MVNO to a focus in enablement and aggregation, but they were still operating as a service provider in some aspects. Ready Mobile launched as a brand in the US with the goal of stopping of distracted driving. Customers can order a solution that pairs MVNO and IoT and this solution is for both parents and fleet managers to address risk with drivers. They can purchase a service that catches a distraction in the network and the driver know the notification will not arrive.
Scott Tibbitts said there are two different markets for this product. For parents, there is a fear-based, emotional market of wanting to protect their family members. For fleet managers, there is a financial equation and a desire to avoid financial lawsuits. Fleets are liable for what happens with a handset in the cab. Fleets with Coca-Cola and Shell have already contacted Katasi asking about this technology. People are willing to switch to other providers to have this technology.
Deputy Edward Catich said with distracted driving, there is only a legal offense when the presence is known. 75% of people will pick the device back up as soon as an officer has driven away from there. Legislation and enforcement does not stop the problem. The type of violation and requirement for a warrant vary depending on the state. Filing warrants to search phones or even going through the carrier is an exhausting process and with the high rate of distracted driving, most don’t pursue it. Catich said that the rate of texting and driving has surpassed that of DUI’s.
Scott Tibbitts said a few years ago, they could see where this problem was going and they could predict where the technology was going with IoT. Teens are text savvy and they know when they are receiving a notification. There needed to be a way to prevent the notification from even arriving in the vehicle. All the technology was heading in an app direction, but with IoT evolving as well, it allowed them to go to the cloud and stop it there. He said his company had a compelling feeling to develop this technology and while it is a great business, the more important part is that they are saving lives.
Dennis Henderson said Ready Mobile is in the MVNO space providing consumer products and their focus in the IoT space is B2B. The opportunity on the commercial side cuts to different areas. The IoT team is making progress in the fleet space and asset management. Distracted driving is a differentiator for them. On the consumer side, parents can purchase the solution by buying an ODB device and a SIM card — the driving device and the carrier side. Building packages in an innovative way allows them to offer a lower price and still have a margin. Groove is built into the system as a feature to express to the customer.
Deputy Edward Catitch said once the technology is available, he can share his testimonies to entice them to buy, but what he finds most successful is speaking to other parents. Stories give justification, but it is the people who want it. Every law enforcement partnership could be beneficial in spreading the news.
Scott Tibbitts said two years from now, they want Groove to be something everyone offers. Dennis Henderson said they are excited to get out and build the business case, eventually inviting the MNO’s to participate. Scott Tibbitts said this business opportunity is a high point, but what really drives their progress is that three years from now, people will be alive because of this technology.
Steve Brumer, Partner at 151 Advisors