What LexisNexis learned from one billion miles of telematics data
The next time a woman needs bragging rights around a group of men, she should bring up the empirical evidence that her gender is comprised of statistically better drivers than their peers.
This is just one of several insights that LexisNexis’ UK-based Wunelli has gathered after recording and analyzing over 1 billion miles of data on driving behaviors.
Wunelli’s data is particularly impressive when considering much of it was gathered by smartphones, including iPhone and Android devices. While designing a user-friendly telematics app is relatively painless, the “back end” technological infrastructure proved to be a challenge.
“One of the things that’s really difficult when you’re doing hard install black boxes, we inspect them so they’re all exactly the same. But the phones are all very different, especially the Android handsets. They use different chips, they have different GPS modules, and are configured differently,” said David Lukens, LexisNexis director of vertical marketing. “So when you’re ingesting data from all these different phones, you need to do a lot of filtering to make sure the end result is identical, regardless of the handset that’s generating the data.”
In fact, Lukens notes that about 80% of the effort put into the company’s telematics smartphone technology happened “behind the scenes,” since they wanted to ensure that it captured accurate and reliable information.
“We’re the only provider who uses smartphone data to actually change insurance premiums. The carriers who use our solution change premiums on customers midterm, so it has to be extremely accurate – getting that level of consistency and accuracy from all different types of handsets is quite a job,” he said.
One of the telematics company’s most noteworthy findings disproved the notion that certain driving behaviors are inherently dangerous in every time and setting. On the contrary, Wunelli found that driving behaviors often are determined either safe or perilous based on the context in which they take place.
For example, while “hard acceleration” is frequently frowned upon, when entering a thruway ramp, it is a necessity. Similarly, motorists may need to speed on the highway to maintain pace with traffic, but exceeding the speed limit even nominally in a residential area can be highly risky.
“Geospatial context for different events is very, very important,” Lukens said.
Wunelli plans to analyze the data for phone habits next, and assess whether hands-free devices are actually helpful or a hindrance to drivers.
Also in the future for the company are ambitions to expand into the North American market. Since feedback has been so positive from UK consumers who appreciate their insurance rates decreasing alongside good driving habits, and Australia has already seen 120,000 downloads since December, the U.S. and Canada are the next logical step for the company.
In doing so, Lukens notes that safety and security will remain a top priority.
“Telematics is really sexy right now, especially since smartphones are starting to get involved and there’s a lot of apps, but it’s really important that when agents look at these solutions, the app tends to be the tangible thing that gets you excited,” he said. “But it’s really about data security, privacy, data hygiene, and making sure the quality of data is really up to the task of changing people’s insurance premiums.”