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What in the world is “telematics”?: My baptism into the world of sustainable transportation

May 2, 2014

A few months ago, I began working with some of our sustainable transportation initiatives at FedEx – a new area for me. One of my first tasks was to put together a weeklong training event where FedEx would share our insights, knowledge and expertise with EMBARQ, one of the world’s leading sustainable transportation nonprofit organizations.

The program was called the FedEx Fellows program. It was designed to expose leaders from EMBARQ affiliates in India, Brazil and Mexico to many facets of FedEx operations including fuel technologies, routing design, vehicle purchasing, maintenance planning, telematics and other areas.

These are definitely not my areas of expertise! When I saw “telematics” on the list, I had to make a quick visit to Google to find out what it was! Turns out it has to do with GPS tracking, communications networks, and other areas related to the digital transfer of information about the status and location of a vehicle and/or fleet of vehicles.

(My area of expertise is corporate citizenship – leveraging FedEx resources to increase the capacity of global nonprofit organizations through strategic grant making and in-kind investments to benefit communities. I also help arrange skills-based volunteering opportunities, enabling our team members to benefit nonprofits by volunteering their professional expertise.)

The training agenda for the Fellows was developed from a wish list that EMBARQ provided us regarding areas of training they believed they could benefit from most.

EMBARQ is in the business of providing guidance, counsel and leadership to governments around the world in the development and establishment of sustainable transportation networks. The Fellows came to FedEx headquarters to learn from our experts about how we manage our global fleet of more than 90,000 owned and contracted vehicles. They will take their learning and insights with them, back to their home countries and their local EMBARQ affiliates and will apply their new found knowledge as they work with local transportation authorities to help establish bus lines, and rapid transit bus systems.

By all accounts, the training opportunity proved to be a tremendously valuable experience for the Fellows. And, I have to add that while I have 24 years at FedEx, I was blown away in learning so much more about the depth and breadth of our operations and by the outstanding technical knowledge that my fellow team members articulated so well in their respective areas of expertise.

We held our first FedEx Fellows program for EMBARQ back in November of 2011. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of guest blog posts from these Fellows. In these posts, they will share how what they learned at FedEx benefited the work they are doing around the world in India, Mexico and Brazil.


    kempaiah c says:

    so very very very so good jobs.

    Ethan Arpi says:

    Congrats, Shane! I’m really happy to see that this is still going on. I worked with Brandon and Julia on the first fellows project in Memphis in 2011 and it was a great experience. I’m glad a new class is benefiting from the same experience.

    Anita Salem says:

    Hi Shane, I just caught your post on Telematics and wanted to connect with others who are looking at the impact of telematics on reduced fuel usage. I am with the United States Marine Corps and we are conducting extensive work on how fuel use can be reduced in the operational forces. For the Marine Corps every additional convoy mile results in lives at risk and dangers to the mission. Currently, faculty and students at the Naval Postgraduate School are tasked with talking to private fleets that can share best practices and lessons learned from their use of vehicle telematics. I would love to have a dialog about how FedEx is using their systems and how it might be applied in the Marine Corps to keep our country and soldiers safe. Hope to here from others interested…

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