September 20, 2021
Some dash cams offer the ability to live stream video in real time. This makes it possible to do virtual ride-alongs with drivers and provide remote training and feedback. In this guide, learn how live streaming works, its benefits, privacy protections for drivers, and how to choose the best live streaming dash cam for your fleet.
Dash cams, also known as dash cameras, are an extremely effective safety tool for commercial fleets. There are a variety of different types of dash cams available that can be deployed for various purposes, but generally fleets install dash cams because they’re looking for better visibility into on-the-road safety. Dash cam footage is often used for driver coaching and, in case of an accident, evidence for exoneration.
In addition to the ability to record video and auto-upload incident footage, some dash cams (like Samsara AI Dash Cams) offer a live streaming feature. Live streaming makes it possible to view live video from the dash cam remotely, in real time. This means that as a fleet manager, you could use your online dashboard to stream live footage from a dash cam directly to your computer.
Dash cams with live streaming make it possible to coach and support new drivers remotely, with the ability to conduct virtual ride-alongs. Some fleet managers use live streaming to coach drivers who are new to the job, learning a new route, or have exhibited unsafe driver behavior in the past. Live streaming can also be used to recognize drivers for good driving habits.
Live streaming works differently depending on what dash cam system you choose. Samsara AI Dash Cams offer a Live Streaming feature that makes it possible for safety managers to stream road-facing video, inward-facing video, or both to their Samsara dashboard in real time.
Approved admins can initiate a live stream via their Samsara dashboard for vehicles that are on active trips and have cellular reception. The dash cam is able to stream live video and audio with ultra-low latency, meaning the video playback is live. In-cab alerts notify drivers any time a live stream starts and ends to ensure drivers always know when Live Streaming is activated.
Here is an example of what Samsara’s Live Streaming feature looks like from the Samsara dashboard:
Not all fleet dash cams offer live streaming as a feature. Why should you consider choosing a dash cam system that offers live streaming?
There are many benefits to having a vehicle camera system in general—but live streaming makes it possible to remotely coach and engage with drivers in new ways, which can deliver significant additional ROI. Here are three benefits of dash cams with live streaming:
Peace of mind: For many safety managers, it’s stressful to know that your team is always out on the road, far from headquarters, and you don’t know how they’re doing. What are the road conditions? Is it icy or rainy? Are your drivers stuck in traffic? Live streaming makes it possible for managers to check in on drivers and ensure they’re doing alright. You might not use this feature all the time, but knowing that it is available can provide peace of mind for emergencies.
Spot checks: Live streaming lets managers quickly check in to do a “core sampling” of their drivers. Some managers check in on every driver once a week, and others focus on drivers who need coaching.
Remote training: When fleets hire new drivers or offer continued training, it’s common for safety managers or tenured drivers to ride along for a few shifts to give real-time tips, training, and feedback. However, this can be time-consuming—and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not always safe. Live streaming lets managers virtually ride along with drivers to provide remote training and feedback.
Take SeniorCare EMS, for example—the largest commercial ambulance provider in New York City, with more than 200 vehicles and 1,300 employees. In search of a reliable GPS tracking solution for their fleet, they found that Samsara’s all-in-one platform could help them consolidate three separate vendors for GPS tracking, wireless data, and dash cams. Now, they rely on the power of Samsara’s advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to proactively prevent risky driving behavior, and they use Samsara’s Live Streaming feature to spot check safety across their fleet.
“As an emergency service, we do random audits of crews driving on emergency calls to ensure that both the lights and sirens are activated and that the crews are coming to a complete stop at all intersections—keeping the ambulance, crew, and public safe,” said Robert Ackerman, Safety Director at SeniorCare EMS. “Live Streaming allows us to give instantaneous feedback as if we are in the cab with the crew.”
Driver privacy is a very important consideration when thinking about live streaming. Whatever dash cam system you choose, any live streaming feature should be built with driver privacy in mind.
That’s why Samsara has incorporated driver-centric features with a privacy by design approach. As part of Samsara’s privacy-by-design principles, audio alerts always notify drivers when Live Streaming is initiated and ends. The alert says “Live stream started” and “Live stream ended.” In order to ensure driver awareness, these in-cab alerts cannot be turned off.
There are many different dash cam options available for fleets. Here are a few of the most important features to consider when evaluating the best dash cam for your business needs:
Artificial intelligence (AI): The most advanced dash cams include built-in AI, so they can detect safety issues without a g-force trigger—like rolling stops, distracted driving, and tailgating. AI makes it possible to coach drivers on risky behavior and near misses.
Real-time GPS tracking: Connectivity to a GPS tracker, like a telematics device, is incredibly helpful for enriching your dash cam data and exonerating drivers. With real-time GPS location data, you can pinpoint exactly where safety incidents happen, create admin alerts based on geofences, and retrieve additional video evidence in the case of a false claim.
Different configurations: Dash cams come in a variety of different configurations, which serve different purposes. Front-facing dash cams, for example, are mounted on your windshield and have one lens that faces the road ahead—whereas dual-facing dash cams (or dual cameras) have an additional lens that faces inward to capture in-cab activity.
Internet connectivity: Most dash cams have a micro SD card or memory card that stores footage locally. In addition, advanced fleet dash cams can connect to the internet via a high-speed cellular connection, which allows the dash cam to send footage to the cloud. This provides nearly instant access to auto-uploaded incident footage via cloud storage, so you can coach and exonerate drivers in real time.
Harsh event detection: The best dash cams use a connected g-sensor and accelerometer to automatically detect harsh driving events—like harsh braking or a collision—and auto-upload video recordings to the cloud. This is helpful for coaching and improving driver behavior.
HD video resolution: Resolution (or image quality) depends on how many pixels the dash cam records. High quality forward-facing dash cams should record video in full HD 1080p, which will make it possible for you to see the road ahead clearly and make out numbers on license plates.
Field of view: Field of view is how much of the road (or inside of the cab) the dash cam can see. To ensure your dash cams capture a broad field of view, look for a wide angle or semi-wide angle lens.
Mounting: The two most popular ways to install dash cams are via a suction cup or adhesive. Some dash cams may also attach to your rear view mirror. Adhesive attachments are generally a more secure option that still offer quick and easy installation.
Audio speaker and recording: Some dash cams include built-in speakers that can play verbal and/or audio alerts when unsafe driving behavior is detected. You may also be able to turn on recording to capture audio during safety events.
Night vision: Some dash cams are optimized for capturing footage at night or in low-light conditions. If your drivers often operate at night, look for a dash cam with infrared LED, which is particularly important for capturing video footage of unlit cabs.
Coaching and administrative tools: Different fleet dash cam solutions offer a variety of different online tools for reviewing footage and coaching drivers. Look for a platform that will make your safety workflow easier, increase consistency and accountability, and keep drivers engaged. Samsara offers features like a centralized Safety Inbox (for reviewing incident footage), safety score gamification (to encourage friendly competition among drivers), and easy video retrieval (for quickly downloading additional video evidence to exonerate drivers).
Samsara is the number one fastest-growing video telematics vendor, trusted by thousands of fleets across the country. With features such as Live Streaming, auto-uploaded HD incident footage, on-demand video retrieval, optional in-cab alerts and more, Samsara AI Dash Cams are a great choice for any fleet looking to improve safety and reduce costs.
See for yourself how Samsara can make safety a competitive advantage for your business. Reach out for a free trial today.
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