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Potholes management with Synaptiv & REDTAIL

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Potholes damage costs UK drivers £1.3 billion every year!

Potholes on British roads are an increasing problem. Research by Kwik Fit in 2020 revealed that the cost to UK drivers from pothole damage was £1.3 billion!  In that same year, one UK local authority was forced to pay out £1.2 million to drivers for damage to their vehicles caused by potholes.​


Redtail Telematics has been appointed by Synaptiv to help local councils say farewell to the fearsome pothole.  It starts with data collected from Redtail’s ‘black box’ telematics devices, fitted to vehicles driving on UK roads. The data is transformed into an accurate assessment of the road surface that the vehicles are traveling along.  This negates the need for specialist equipment to survey roads once a year or employ inspectors to manually assess damage locations.​

Real-time road analysis using telematics reduces the need for specialist equipment

Since data is collected and analyzed in real-time, the Synaptiv solution can monitor defects as they appear.  Consequently, roads can be repaired quicker, before they pose a risk to drivers, or deteriorate and become costly to repair. The analytics employed also makes predictions on the rate at which a defect may deteriorate, helping councils prioritize repair schedules.

A twelve-month trial has revealed promising results

The solution has been trialed with councils for the past twelve months and successfully validated against traditional road surveying solutions. Recently, the DfT announced it will allow highway authorities to use new technologies for assessing road surface conditions.  This news opens the market to innovative approaches.  Approaches that are not only better performing but can be deployed at a far lower cost.​

A word from the CEOs…

Redtail CEO Dr Colin Smithers said: “We are delighted that Synaptiv has appointed Redtail Telematics in their work to provide the data insights revolutionizing the way local councils monitor and repair potholes. Our telematics devices and robust data capture technology ensures Synaptiv has the most reliable technology.  Supporting their ongoing initiatives with local councils, and reducing costs and manpower when addressing the plague of UK roads… The pothole.”

Matt Lewis, CEO, Synaptiv commented: “Working with Redtail has allowed us to accelerate the development of our artificial intelligence algorithms capable of transforming data from connected vehicles into an accurate assessment of road health. It is exciting to see our innovation help local authorities start delivering on the promise of the smart city, with data-driven insights dramatically improving public services and enhancing the quality of life for citizens.”


‘GTM’: the KOBA/REDTAIL version – Go To Market

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Another acronym.  I know what it means for me, but was mildly amused by results from GTM – Definition by AcronymFinder, which include Great Tibetan Marathon (sounds hilly), Garfield the Movie (Bill Murray funny), and pervasively (and perhaps unsurprisingly) top of list Google Tag Manager.

For me, and for our ‘fairer motor insurance for Australia’ partner KOBA, it means Go To Market.


More importantly, it means genuine collaboration on a detailed action plan to fulfil market needs in a timely and (crucially) cash-conscious manner.  A little more detail:


Starts with an idea, a hunch – in this case prompted by ByMiles success with a low-mileage proposition in the UK – new and promising in Australia.  Can be corroborated with primary or desk research into appetite and competition, and of course a sense of the economics of the thing.  And I’d like to think REDTAIL added a little insight in discussion with KOBA CEO Andrew Wong on multiple early morning/early evening chats.


Having qualified demand, how to get there? Clearly where the KOBA/REDTAIL partnership intensified was around the device/data solution. We (and I mean we) understand the options for miles tracking device, and its necessary connectivity with appropriate network provider. REDTAIL (Cambridge UK) and KOBA software folk (Mike, Rock Creek and Jon, Anaheim, both USA) defining API access and configuration to generate journey data of value

And then engaging with Erica, KOBA Brand Communications Director on minutiae of device packaging, branding, and consumer communication around product and service.

And then sorting fulfilment logistics with and through our Clarion Malaysia manufacturing facility through to KOBA partner Intellitrac.

And then liaising with Andrew W. on launch plans and demand build up and forecast and readiness and timing and cashflow (vital for start-up)…… all amidst a global pandemic. Same for all of us, right?


Soft launch mid-August, hard launch early October. Devices are delivered, test journeys evident, early adopter marketing underway (PRE-REGISTER NOW at KOBA Insurance – Pay Per KM Car Insurance), and now the exciting part:



Keep you posted………



Partner is as Partner does, and says, and………

Reading Time: 4 minutes

REDTAIL works with both small and large businesses. In all those relationships, we strive to work with humility, empathy, and fortitude in order to, well, succeed together. The sum of which is that working with the right folk in the right way is imperative to growth.  This has consistently brought to the fore the meaning of ‘partner’ in our business relationships.

We’ve all seen it: Partner Programme, Partner Contract; Partner Relationship, Partner Pricing (pricing a subject all on its own!) – all ripe for abuse and exploitation – and of course opportunity. Very recently I was in a meeting in which the (large) company representative stated clearly and warmly: ‘We like to work with people as partners, where it’s about relationship.’ Nice. Conversely, I was in a meeting in which a (small/medium) company representative stated clearly ‘You are not a partner you are a commodity.’ Less nice.

I am happy to confirm that in my first example, the large company Partner has backed up their statement with collaborative behavior.  Likewise, rather unfortunately, my second example has continued to… abuse expectations, shall we say.


But what should ‘Partner’ mean, and when should this over-flexed term be used?

I offer three areas for discussion on partner behaviors:

  1. Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context
  2. Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes – interdependencies
  3. Respect

All very collaborative, positive behaviors that you’d want to experience in any relationship you find yourself involved in. But what do they mean? How can they be achieved?

Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context

This is not a history lesson. It is a dialogue (important word) on where a business has come from, its DNA, where its key people have come from, and where it hopes to get and how, and even when. Share (under NDA) to care, as they say. Dedicate the time and intellect. Question and listen to the answer. Understand and accept.

Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes

Perhaps the most difficult. It is a moving target of course. Understanding of today’s ambitions takes no account of market dynamics that may impact both direction and outcome. Acceptance can be tested by a seemingly inconsistent knee-jerk reaction. Relationships can be impacted without transparent communication. Having said that, to continue to enable growth, for outcomes to be celebrated mutually, surely a worthwhile investment in every sense of the word.


‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’;

‘due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others’

Nuff said?

So when should we use this term? Difficult to be prescriptive, and I would certainly urge a considered approach. What I am sure of is that when you mean it, say it, and when you say it mean it.  Act accordingly and with consistency, resolve, and not a little humility, empathy and fortitude.


Redtail Telematics / KOBA pay-per-km partnership

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Redtail Telematics appointed by KOBA as they launch pay-by-kilometre car insurance in Australia

KOBA car insurance is led by serial entrepreneur Andrew Wong.  My intro to Andrew was initially through ByMiles and their SaaS platform ByBits.  Andrew and Andrew (that’s me) have forged a genuine partner relationship – digitally of course, as befits the tenor of the last twelve months.  That partnership has been built on a solid foundation of listening and understanding, speedy and substantial responsiveness, and honesty and transparency of communication.


Andrew Wong, CEO & Founder, KOBA

‘We’ve really appreciated the way your team has just dove into the partnership with us.  It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.  You’ve really helped us fill in the ‘device’ knowledge gap that we have.  I’m ready and eager to get going with this partnership so we can get access to the data, APIs, etc, this way we are locked into working with you guys.’



Aside of the people bit, of course, REDTAIL had to provide what KOBA needed.  Which is best in class, highly accurate and immediate journey data – made possible through proven high quality devices, rich platforms for both journey and incident data and dynamic API access and support.​

And to quote the late great Karen Carpenter (well lyricist Paul Williams actually), we’ve only just begun.

Dialogues and activity are intensifying as we ramp up for a July launch.  From fulfilment logistics to packaging branding, claims portal capabilities to driver scoring, ideas and potential solutions continue to evolve. The partnership will continue to evolve also as market take up and feedback informs ways forward.  Shared values will underpin robust exchanges and testing of outcomes, but will move inevitably in the mutually desired direction of maximising opportunity.

Andrew Little

Marketing & Sales guy

Our new Bluetooth Key Fob – an IoT story

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our IoT family has recently been expanded with the addition of the new Bluetooth key fob.  But what isn’t classed as IoT nowadays?!  Definition time:

‘Internet of things – connection through the internet of everyday devices to send and receive data.’

[Oxford English Dictionary]

This overused term has become a handy catch-all that perhaps confuses but rarely clarifies what a company is offering.  It is indicative that we do not hear a potential customer requiring an ‘internet of things’ solution.



Now I’d like to explore some clarity.

  • Internet connection – think we get that – but needs quality!
  • Everyday device – mmmmm……I’ve seen this expressed as ‘familiar objects that you don’t expect to be used in this way’ ?!?
  • Send and receive data – well yes.  But we do need the sense of quality (again) and value in that data

We were challenged by the question (and we like challenging questions), of how to assert driver ID as a security measure.  All manner of ‘answers’ in terms of components, sensors, form factor – but our preference is for a more expansive view.  By which I mean responding to the market and customer requirements while considering the possibilities of what could be done.




We identified Bluetooth Low Energy as the most suitable connectivity solution.

First, we selected an off-the-shelf module that enabled ease of development and fast time to market.  Then we designed a circuit board for the most efficient and effective provision of driver ID, whilst also offering scope for future thinking.  The board was designed to accommodate environmental sensor technology to allow response to future requirements from innovative customers.


Of course, there is opportunity in home, in pet and in vehicle, in sensing temperature, power, current, pressure – and more.

Additionally, we scrutinized power efficiency, and include one year’s worth of juice from a single coin cell.  To avoid limiting ourselves to component solutions, we have built-in flexibility throughout our platform in our own firmware and software.  This allows us to evolve in line with customer needs.  For example, the device, whilst starting off in driver ID mode, can be used as a beacon in any and all manner of applications, including integration with smartphone apps.

The Vehicle Asset Management (VAM) device sends sensor data from source to DataWarehouse via the mobile network.


More generally, data from wireless sensors to a database to a webpage – we really have only just begun.

I am sure that we all attend numerous conference events propounding the IoT ‘art of the possible’.  We prefer to be a little more pragmatic.  Thinking and doing and will continue quality sensors to deliver data of value to you and your customers.

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