India’s dusty highways could soon hook up with the skies and take a sharp turn towards high technology. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is currently studying the viability of installing electronic mapping and satellite-based vehicle tracking systems along the national highway network. The technology will offer services such as tracking of vehicles for fleet owners and help corporates keep a tab on inventory and bridge any demand-supply gap. The NHAI has commissioned a consultancy project on the technology for providing value-added services to road-users. The project is being handled by a team led by the US-based Parsons Brinkerhoff International.
“The study will focus on the uses of the technology to benefit commuter groups as well as the investment required to execute the project,” an NHAI official said.
The decision to go for the new technology came up after a meeting the NHAI officials had with some professors from American universities, who were experienced in such technology in the US.
“Possible uses of the technology include helping corporates track down their supply chain and inventory movement”, an official said.
Meanwhile, sensing a business opportunity, a part of the electronics industry has already started importing and testing the equipment that can be fitted on vehicles to track vehicle movement, using geographic information system and global satellite positioning. Industry sources said a few manufacturers and possible marketers met recently in Chandigarh to discuss the new business. On the other hand, a few vehicle makers, especially commercial vehicle manufacturers, who have tested these products in other countries, are negotiating with fleet owners, freight companies and courier companies, who need to monitor their fleet movement. In the past, a few FMCG and consumer durables manufacturers had tried their hand at putting in place a tracking system to keep a tab on inventory movement. But they had not been able to make much headway. Their offices and dealers were connected, but there still is a wide technology gap.