The U.S. Air Force is testing a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)-certified vehicle telematics solution by Teletrac Navman at multiple locations in the United States (including California) and Europe. The telematics system will monitor 300 data parameters—including fuel, mileage, hard braking, acceleration, and idle times—to help improve driver safety and fleet efficiency. FedRAMP-certification is required prior to deploying any vehicle telematics system in the federal government, which can be a major hurdle for telematics companies and agencies alike. FedRAMP requires that cloud service providers meet important security standards, after which providers can become authorized on a government-wide level.

Air Force staff has configured the Teletrac Navman telematics system to send email alerts to the headquarters team on the East Coast, so they can follow up with the fleet team and vehicle operators at the testing locations. The Air Force is initially focused on reducing idling times as a means to reduce petroleum consumption and cut fuel costs. For example, in a 1-week period during the current demonstration, the system’s web-based Director’s View reported that the vehicles used in the demonstration were at idle 43% of the time during engine run. That’s equal to approximately 24 gallons of fuel for each idling vehicle (per Air Force calculations). This empirical data allows fleet managers to engage with commanders to ensure compliance with the Air Force’s 5-minute idle rule, and moreover, allows the agency to pursue best practices in the Executive Order 13834 Implementing Instructions [1] and achieve statutory goals to reduce petroleum consumption.

Transitioning from a test program to full authority to operate involves a higher level of scrutiny. As Master Sergeant James Merrick explains, “Everything needs to be tested before installing devices on government vehicles. You can’t just buy systems off the shelf without testing the devices for any security vulnerabilities to ensure that the systems are secure. After the devices have received their certification, then the complex routing for approval begins, which can take 6 to 12 months to be granted to utilize the system.” Because telematics systems typically track geolocational data of vehicles in motion, even non-tactical Department of Defense vehicle information must be protected.

This is not the Air Force’s first foray into telematics. They used a telematics system for more than 10 years, but it eventually became outdated and the authority to operate expired. As telematics technology veterans, they have information to share with other agencies that are exploring telematics. “It’s better to coordinate with other agencies, work with specialists, do your homework, research the devices, and test the system [rather] than going into the process uninformed. Ensure you have the proper documentation and approval to operate any telematics,” says Master Sergeant Merrick. “After those hurdles are cleared, then you can sit back and monitor/manage your fleet effectively, efficiently, and with modern technology.”