Where the future telematics business opportunities lay, explored by Andrew Williams.

As connectivity technology improves, carmakers and their partners are busy exploring how the expected upsurge in data collected from future cars be managed and exploited.

According to Dr Ben Miners, vice-president of innovation at Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS), the exponential growth in data collected from newer vehicles presents a significant challenge for those organisations that are not already prepared with the “right partnerships and strategies to manage and maximise the value of this data within a society that continues to demand more”.  In his view, organisations in the automotive ecosystem that recognise the importance of partnerships to deliver best-in-class data management, analytics and relevant services will be most effective at transforming existing and future data assets into revenue and value. 

He said: “This means establishing new partnerships in complementary spaces for data management, analytics, and related areas to ensure data is managed by a proven and trusted entity.  This approach preserves the security and integrity of the data from end-to-end with qualified and proven data management, analytics, and service delivery partners.”

While the underlying transfer of vehicular data is a typically behind-the-scenes process as far as the end-user is concerned, Miners expects that a combination of low-latency communication and broad coverage will deliver many different connected car services - including insurance telematics and improved safety, as well as road usage charging “to fairly price the use of the transportation network”, or even content for rear-seat entertainment. 

Variety

In Miners' view, the availability of technology options to provide coverage wherever a vehicle travels is important to address connectivity needs in regions where terrestrial coverage is weak or does not exist. 

“Similarly, the unique ability to efficiently broadcast updates across a large population of connected cars is well suited to satellite based transports.  In an ideal deployment, vehicles should provide multiple connectivity options to ensure the best connectivity is used to meet the services being delivered,” he says. “This could include a combination of terrestrial and satellite based options to enable the trade-offs between price, latency, bandwidth, and coverage to be optimized for each connected car service.”

Elsewhere, Lauren Smith, policy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), agrees that current and emerging connected technologies are helping to make transportation safer and more convenient.  Moreover, although aware of the fact that data collection in the car is not new, she highlights the fact that there has been a growth in variety, volume, and connectivity. 

“Whereas before, EDR or OBD-II port information may have stayed on the vehicle, now it can be instantly transmitted to a growing number of entities, from other cars to connected traffic lights, carmakers, satellites and a growing number of entities in the connected vehicle ecosystem,” she says.

“This can power driving assistance features, from vehicle to vehicle communication technology that can alert drivers of a crash ahead before they can even see it, to convenience features, from mapping to infotainment.  Connectivity is becoming a car feature, and any advancements to facilitate that connectivity are likely to be embraced sooner rather than later.”

Security

Alongside the undoubted technological improvement, Miners believes that security-by-design will continue to be an essential component of all successful connected vehicle solutions, including the technology, data management, analytics, and service providers within each solution.  He also predicts that current solutions to securely deploy over-the-air updates will remain an important part of maintenance and update systems within the vehicle. 

“As the population of connected vehicles increases, leveraging multicast and broadcast strategies provides bandwidth efficiencies over traditional individual updates.  Consistent with the delivery of seamless connected vehicle services, as long as system updates can be deployed in a timely manner without disrupting service delivery, the underlying transport should be selected to optimize the trade-offs between price, latency, bandwidth, and coverage,” he says.

Meanwhile, Smith argues that people “won't use connected cars unless they trust them, both from a privacy and cybersecurity perspective” and confirms that the industry understands that cybersecurity needs to be the top priority.  As a result, she reveals that many stakeholders have even committed to working together in an Automotive ISAC (Information and Sharing Analysis Centre), which brings together automotive cyber experts from across companies to analyse, share and track cyber threats, spot potential weaknesses in vehicle electronics and develop best practices for the auto sector.

“There are always hacking risks and it is certainly likely that addressing vulnerabilities in a vehicle or fleet of connected vehicles could involve over-the-air software updates, perhaps in real-time.  This approach could introduce significant safety gains.  Whereas, before, vehicle vulnerabilities had to be addressed by a recall process that has very low participation rates, the ability to send updates instantly to an entire fleet could go a long way to safeguarding cybersecurity, and preventing any problems that do arise from spreading,” she concluded.

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