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Big-data companies like Xerox are ramping up plans for handling huge volumes of data from V2X transmitters.

Searching for V2V's hidden data

If vehicles eventually talk to each other and to infrastructure stations as expected, there’s going to be a ton of data about traffic and road conditions. Information technology and automotive companies feel that some of this information has a lot of potential value, though what exactly it’s good for remains uncertain.

It’s widely predicted that vehicle-to-vehicle/-infrastructure (V2X) technology will be required on all vehicles due to its significant role in improving safety. If that occurs, all vehicles will eventually transmit their speed, direction, and other information. These transmissions are mainly for safety, but the wealth of real-time information will undoubtedly be useful for something else.

“There’s real value in accumulating data at intersections and on the freeway,” said Hideki Hada of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing’s Integrated Vehicle Systems Dept. “You can collect billions of pieces of data for things like real-time traffic information. Somebody will make good money by aggregating data.”

However, cellular signals are already being used for real-time traffic information. That concept will undoubtedly improve vastly in the years it will take before a large percentage of vehicles have V2X transmitters. Still, IT companies are already exploring ideas that will help them justify building large systems that focus on transportation data. There may not be one killer application for data, but many minor usage models may exist.

“We’re making huge investments into connected cars as part of our cloud services strategy,” said Richard Nash, Solution Architect for Intelligent Transport at IBM. “We’re trying to string together different ideas to see where there are use cases in various domains. In some areas, they’ll be collecting enormous amounts of data. The trick is to sift through it to find the four or five items that have some business benefits.”

The big-data techniques used to analyze trends in consumer fields can be used to glean useful information from data sent by cars. If V2V does become a standard feature, there will be no shortage of data to analyze.

“Big data plays are all about finding the needle in the haystack,” said Joe Averkamp, Senior Director, Technology, Policy & Strategy, at Xerox. “A lot of the data is just not interesting. You quickly get up to petabytes and start talking about exabytes.”

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