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14 May, 2020

Juggling the data: how to put together a multi-source telematics solution

Some of the specific resources flespi offers for effective development of complex applications.

China has returned 97% of its automotive sector back to operation in just a month after the lockdown termination. The rest of the world is also getting ready for a restart. The current halt of the business activity gives companies a chance and time to analyze the situation, understand what the new reality in their sector will be, and devise a plan of actions for refocusing, repurposing, and reorientation. Sometimes, the scope of change will be so large that a restart may actually become a start.

Since flespi acts as a technology partner for its clients, we want to highlight some of the opportunities that our platform can deliver to ease the transformation of your business, make it more flexible and adaptable, and boost performance.

Some sources point out the following trend among the most pronounced in the telematics market: “Fleets are looking to integrate their telematics technology with greater flexibility.” This aligns well with the definition of flespi: “flexible telematics backend” and relates closely to our focus on building a technologically advanced yet developer-friendly platform for easier hardware management, facilitated integration of telematics into target platforms, and real-time analytics.

That said, let me tell you about the specific benefits that flespi can bring to your projects (apart from its core competence of collecting and parsing data from dozens of telematics devices). 

Vehicle and other API-based platforms

A lot of companies manufacturing telematics equipment or integrating GPS trackers into their main products (e.g. vehicles) provide access to the collected data via API. Having to deal with multiple APIs and normalizing the data from disparate sources for combined operations is not a trivial task your developers will fancy doing.

flespi has all this hassle already taken care of — all the data coming to the flespi platform is unified into the JSON format with a universal parameter naming scheme and is easily available in a variety of ways.

We are currently extracting the data from the following sources via API for your convenience:

Note: requests for new integrations are accepted from commercial clients only and are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Flexible data access 

Having data in flespi equals having it in any platform or solution of your choice. Since flespi is a middleware, getting your data from it and plugging into the target platform is one of the primary concerns. 

HTTP

  • Tried and true classics that will work from any system — just make an HTTP REST request and get the portion of the data you need.

  • Requires repeated requests to get the latest data, so is not suitable for real-time updates.

MQTT

Streams

  • Push the data to a target destination in a platform-specific format. 

  • Have a buffer to never lose a single bite even if the destination is temporarily unavailable.

High-performance analytics

Having millions of latitude/longitude pairs and a handful of sensor values has little value in itself. Most of the time, you want to identify specific intervals or events characterized by a set of criteria. The good news is that the flespi analytics engine can do a wide range of calculations in real-time and give you the results for consumption via API.

Mileage, engine hours, geofencing, trips and stops, and any user-defined logic are available for easy visual configuration.

Visualizations

Yes, flespi is a backend. No doubt. But we do realize that the ultimate value for the business comes not from the raw data but from its convenient representation for decision-making. So, we created a dashboard tool for visualization of data from MQTT topics — MQTT Tiles. You can not only monitor the real-time metrics but also have the results from the analytics engine updated there as well.

In addition to own developments, we also have a connector for Tableau that allows high-quality visualizations for your telematics data and analytics results.

Plugins

We’ve introduced the concept of plugins quite recently. Plugins are called to extend the functionality of flespi for special cases such as streaming particular telematics data into government-regulated systems, toll roads services, or various telematics data aggregators.

For now, we have a plugin for the Bulgarian national toll road system called BG Toll — it appends the data required by the national regulations to the telematics messages from your selected devices and forwards the resulting messages to the BG Toll system via a dedicated stream.

The integration of new plugins and corresponding streams is available upon request to flespi support.

Techy goodies

Your developers will definitely like these. Our team is 80% developers, so we understand your pains and expectations firsthand. We have a set of complementary tools to simplify the work of telematics professionals and developers.

We also offer you a proxy channel that allows forking the dataflow to several destinations and analyzing the raw traffic in the built-in HEX viewer.

The newly released Traffic viewer is another step towards convenient debugging — is allows analyzing raw traffic data from all messages available for all your flespi channels.

Wialon friendliness

As a younger brother (according to age) of Wialon, flespi pays a lot of respect to its elder brother and establishes comprehensive interaction with it:

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flespi has vast capabilities that can be applied to a variety of cases. Our goal here was to highlight some of the less visible ones to keep you current on what flespi can do for your business.

Stay tuned for updates and join the flespi community on the forum.