With data collection, its use, and abuse, flying high on the public radar, a conundrum is developing around exactly what this data can, and should be used for – everywhere, not just vehicular. But vehicular data has a different metric. Data collected by vehicles goes across all kinds of infrastructures, and apps, from social media to accidents, road assistance, even crimes and other emergencies. It is different from data collected at static sites. Therefore, there are questions about vehicular data and what should and should not be public or private.
The value of connected vehicle data is its ability to provide real-time information that can provide a live stream of conditions across all types of environmental vectors.
Road condition is one prime example. Data collected by vehicles on the condition of the roads can be used by the departments of transportation in myriad ways. Data from vehicles can be used to find potholes and other road hazards. In cold climates, it can provide information on icing, and where plows should prioritize their runs. Another is traffic. Such data is crucial for determining any number of metrics that can aid traffic control departments in such things signal timing, weather variances, emergency responses, traveler information systems and much more. And, it can, also, become a wide area network to aid in information collection for any number of emergency situations.
The possibilities are widespread. Having vehicles in constant contact with transportation infrastructures and the entities that manage them is the best way to efficiently manage that infrastructure.
Similar statements can be made about social media. The first instance is using social media data in a crime or abduction scenario, such as inebriated drivers, carjacking, or amber alerts, for example. That occurs, to some degree, already but it currently relies on voluntary, cooperative efforts. If such data can be monitored by vehicles, and sent to the proper agencies, autonomously, it would be much more efficient and ubiquitous.
The transportation ecosystem is rapidly approaching a time when this will be possible. And, once the 5G ecosystem is in place, it will be even more capable, efficient, and faster.
Sounds great, does it not? Yes, in a perfect world. However, this in not utopia and there is the specter of both privacy and security that come into play here.
This could be a long-winded conversation. There are so many tangential issues within this wheelhouse. But for this discussion I am sticking to the privacy vector.
At the moment, everyone is looking at the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as the guideline. While we do not have something like that, yet, similar legislation, will eventually, be implemented here.
GDPR, in a nutshell, is data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. It is intended to return the control over one’s personal data to the vehicle owner in this case.
That puts vehicle manufacturers in a bit of a tough spot when compared to, say, social media. Not just with the type of data collected and how, but with the potential windfall from selling such data to third parties (and do not think they are not thinking about or doing that already) to follow social media and others, footsteps. According to Intel, in a fully connected vehicular ecosystem, cars can generate over 3 TB of data per hour. That is a lot of data – the equivalent of 3,000 people talking simultaneously!
All parties involved (consumer to vehicle manufacturer) really would like to be connected. But there are grave concerns about both who owns the data and the security around it. The EU has made data generated in a vehicle the property of the driver and no one else. That creates some interesting ramifications – not so much for owners of private vehicles, but for rental car companies, fleet operators, ridesharing companies, and other non-owner drivers. That, however, is another Oprah show.
Circling back, however, data miners and sellers are, frantically, searching for a sweets spot on how to stay legal and, yet, monetize this.
Of course, not all of that data is of interest to 3rdparty data scoopers like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the rest of the usual suspects. But enough of it, such as sending target marketing ads to smartphones or in-vehicle dash displays, based on route data and stops that the driver is making. That is an example of the data that is subject to security and privacy. Say one is looking for a parking space in a smart city. That data can be captured and used by such 3rdparties to target advertisements or captured by hackers who can not only compromise the vehicle but use it to worm into any number of systems if the data is not private and secure.
There is so much more to talk about here, but space is running short. The general thinking is to let the vehicle owner opt into such data sharing. But we all know how well that has been working so far. The amount of potential dollars that can be realized from such data is staggering so the data miners are really fighting to keep vehicle owners from having control.
While there is a strong argument that some of this data should certainly be made public (life safety, roads, weather), some of it certainly should not, as well. It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next couple of years.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, Lucent Technologies, , Qwest, City and County of Denver, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner. He is a senior/life member of the IEEE, the Press Liaison for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and a member of the IEEE Communications Society, IEEE MTT Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and the IEEE 5G Community. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org