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Wind River’s Peter Brown (center) discusses security at the SAE WCX 2018, as William Bone and CCC’s Andreas Hecht look on. (Terry Costlow)

Big data issues, security challenges may slow connected car info usage

Connectivity gives automakers and industry suppliers a wealth of data, but it’s not going to be easy to turn that data into useful information. Deciding how much of the data can be transmitted to the outside world is the first challenge, followed by data sharing technologies and the all-important security question.

Cars are generating terabytes of data, bringing both opportunity and challenges. Panelists at a 2018 SAE WCX panel, “Connected Car to Connected World: The Road to Monetization,” detailed a range of technical and societal issues that need to be addressed. One major issue is the huge amount of data that’s generated throughout the vehicle.

“The quantity of data is being misunderstood in its size and the complexity of handling it,” said William Bone of Aras Corp. “The amount of data coming off vehicle systems, like high definition cameras for mapping, lidar and radar systems, is massive. Companies want to reduce it, but it’s still a terabyte per hour after data reduction. The cost of doing terabytes of data a day on a fleet runs to thousands of dollars, no one can do it.”

Making the most of all that data is a complex issue. A number of different groups within OEMs can use it, and as can system suppliers and service providers. However, even a single OEM can use many different formats for data, making it difficult to share with internal or external groups. That’s prompting many companies to consider handing data to data brokers who will aggregate data and standardize it so it’s useful for many entities.

“Part of the role of data brokers will be to normalize data so it can be used by other entities,” observed Andrew Till, Harman Connected Services. “There’s also a question of how much OEMs can invest on data collection, given that the return on investment is two or three years out. Data brokers may be a good choice.”

Two more issues will have to be addressed before there will be much information to share. Customers must feel that privacy and security meet their expectations before they will be willing to let OEMs collect their information. Security will be a critical factor for both consumers and the companies that want to use data. It’s a vexing issue that’s difficult to resolve.

“The problem with cybersecurity is that it’s expensive, but how many people are willing to pay extra for it,” said Peter Brown of Wind River Systems. “Cybersecurity is a supply chain problem, the industry is structured to cut costs, not to create security.”

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