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Weather Telematics’ Michael Keefe (left) discussed IoT tradeoffs as panelists from IBM and Parknav listened. (Source: Terry Costlow)

WCX17: Vehicle connectivity brings privacy, redundancy issues

Connectivity promises to bring a wealth of information to drivers, but it also poses vexing privacy issues. Figuring out where to store all the data related to connectivity is also puzzling for service providers.

As connectivity expands into the mainstream, companies throughout the supply chain are trying to devise strategies for delivering and deriving value by providing services for drivers. Things are changing rapidly as vehicles join the Internet of Things (IoT), according to panelists in an SAE WCX17 session entitled "IoT and Cloud Technology."

“The user experience is evolving,” said Eyal Amir, Parknav’s CEO. “We’ll be bringing in much more information, things like which Starbucks has the shortest lines. Our job is to bring data to the car and work with OEMs to present information to users.”

To keep customer costs down, panelists said services will be provided for free if users agree to provide data. That follows the model set by app providers.

“Data is a value exchange,” said Michael Keefe, Chief Strategy Officer at Weather Telematics. “If we give people benefits, they will share their data.”

That data serves myriad uses. OEMs can tell which on-vehicle features are used and which aren’t. Highway departments can collect data on pothole locations, traffic and accidents. Service providers are trying to make it clear that their information won’t be misused.

“When you opt in, we tell you that data will be used,” said Binoy Damodaran of IBM Corp. “The moment you opt out, we erase that data.”

While service providers strive to give users the information they want, data management becomes a central technical issue. Cloud services must be quickly accessible, and many must be available even when cellular connections are lost.

“Our largest issue is how much data to put on vehicles and how much to store in the cloud,” Keefe said.

OEMs are putting more storage on vehicles, but there won’t be much room for data from the many apps being touted as important for drivers. Parknav’s Amir noted that redundancy is necessary so resources are always available. Panelists said it’s likely that data deemed important for safety or driving assistance will be stored on board while data about a Starbucks line won’t.

“If there’s important highway data, drivers will want to get the data,” Damodaran said. “If other services go down, it’s not that critical. Companies will have to decide what level of redundancy they need.”

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