Simplify on-board services with Datik iPanel platform

The number of on-board systems fitted to coaches and buses is ever-increasing. Few operators are without wi-fi, telematics or one of several other digitally-based platforms that benefit either themselves or their passengers. But more of them means more hardware and software. Datik believes it can reverse that trend and provide all of those services (and more) via its cloud-based iPanel platform, which is compatible with all manufacturers’ vehicles.

iPanel is web-based with a single on-board box. It can work with Datik’s own systems and hardware or those from other suppliers. Pricing is based on a subscription with further charges for the services that the customer utilises.

For UK operators, iPanel offers three strands of capability: Operational control, service to passengers and video telematics.

Operational control includes quality management; service to passengers encompasses wi-fi and entertainment platforms; and video telematics includes real-time monitoring, driver performance management, event-based surveillance and vehicle condition monitoring.

Datik iPanel delivers simplified service to operators, say manufacturer

“Coaches and buses have lots of on-board systems that can add a great deal of cost for the operator,” says Head of Business Development Mikel Aguirre. “They may include CCTV, driver monitoring, telematics and wi-fi. With iPanel, operators can route all of those through one point of contact, with one communications box and one licence. Six or seven individual on-board systems is unnecessary. iPanel simplifies that.”

Datik believes that adopting iPanel will reduce costs for the operator, although it will not work at its best if fitted to just a single vehicle. Instead, optimal results will come if it is applied across a fleet.

Mikel accepts that rolling out iPanel where there is already a variety of on-board technology could be difficult because of arrangements with existing suppliers. Datik can formulate a graduated enabling plan to accommodate that. Our system is not competitive where a buyer wishes to utilise just one element of it – wi-fi, for example. iPanel is built around making use of a combination of technologies. We believe that there is no other such product available.”

Fleets with 20 vehicles and above are target market for iPanel

Fleets of 20 vehicles and above are Datik’s target for iPanel. Its on-board box is small and it can be mounted in a position that suits the operator and where cables can be attached. Certain functions are contained within the box and others are in the cloud, meaning that there is no constant exchange of data.

Datik iPanel
Telematics and driver performance monitoring are a key part of the Datik iPanel platform, along with driver messaging and wi-fi service

Data usage monitoring forms part of Datik’s wi-fi offering. It can be disabled if required, and a landing page can be utilised to harvest marketing information.

“We can also incorporate a driver messaging system with iPanel. It uses a 7in screen on the dash. A microphone can be included if desired and messaging can be two-way, with pre-programmed responses,” says Mikel. “It’s an accessory to the main system.”

The service to passengers element of iPanel gives an opportunity to generate income. Information about attractions can be delivered with the benefit of geofencing, and there is potential to incorporate a ‘frequent flyer’-esque scheme.

Entertainment can be delivered either via fixed displays or using passengers’ own devices. The latter is a concept that has witnessed success with train operating companies and Datik sees a market for it in coaches.

iPanel’s CCTV capability can automatically identify various events. They will be time stamped to allow for easy identification.

“CCTV is cloud-based. That allows downloads to be made quickly and, if required, sent to the insurer,” says Mikel.

Telematics is an integral part of Datik iPanel platform

Telematics is an important part of iPanel. Those operators that use it for CCTV and wi-fi automatically get telematics, along with driver performance monitoring. It comes with all of the usual: A live and historic map showing details of the driver, fuel consumption and speed.

Additionally, users can receive alerts of harsh braking and they can access the CCTV cameras immediately. It is also possible to search for such instances. iPanel will tell the operator when and where they occurred.

Mikel accepts that convincing buyers of the benefits of using a single platform for all on-board technology will be challenging. But he believes that demand for iPanel will grow when it is known in the market. The system is already installed in a small number of vehicles in the UK, and Datik can offer a free trial to potential customers.

Further improvements are in the pipeline, such as 5G wi-fi when it becomes established and upgrades to the tracking function. There is also potential to connect iPanel to an alcohol detection system, as an example of its further functionality. “Besides providing services, iPanel can harvest a great deal of data from the vehicle. The whole point of the product is to simplify onboard systems and reduce costs for the operator while still providing a high-quality solution.”

Contact Mikel Aguirre on