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mercoledì, aprile 20, 2005

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IBM Telematics to Catch Speeders

April 18, 2005 | 10:53 AM

IBM’s new four-year deal, expected to be announced this week, will link tens of thousands of vehicles in a nationwide wireless network by the end of 2006—the largest application of telematics ever, IBM claims. The initiative is designed to combat the abnormally high rate of traffic-related deaths in the Persian Gulf state of the United Arab Emirates.

Under the terms of the deal, IBM’s telematics device and global position system will provide information on a vehicle's location and speed to government agencies. Early prototypes for the tracking device are comparable to an airplane's "black box."

The United Arab Emirates’ five-year goal is to cut its 38 per 100,000 people accident-related fatalities in half, said Michael Nelson, an IBM director of Internet technologies strategy. In comparison, the U.S. has 15 deaths per 10,000 people, while Sweden's rate is six.

If a driver exceeds the speed limit, a warning will be transmitted to the individual car via an on-board speaker. Autos will also be equipped with screens and voice-recognition software to access services planned for the future, IBM said.

There are concerns among consumer advocate and privacy groups worldwide who fear the deal may set a dangerous precedent for “Big Brother” activity in other governments leading to a continuous government monitoring of private actions worldwide. Corporations, on the other hand, welcome the deal as a harbinger of new marketing opportunities. The data gathered by the IBM devices can be used by commercial companies to offer consumer-related services such as rental car and hotel services. Insurance companies may also use the data to compute premiums based on actual driver performance.