Connected Car Data: Balancing Opportunity with Responsibility


May 7, 2021in Thought Leadership

by Greg Ross, Connected Vehicles Practice Lead, motormindz

Connected Car Data:  Balancing Opportunity with Responsibility

There is no shortage of opportunity for connected car data and commands, but every opportunity to create value can also be an opportunity for mayhem and abuse.  As built-in connections become more widespread and more capable, we will continue to see innovation at all levels, in every part of the automotive industry. But to create a healthy environment for innovation around connected car data, it is essential to build in protections for data security, access management, and consumer privacy.

The ultimate responsibility for creating and managing a secure connected car ecosystem falls squarely on OEMs. Manufacturers have a custodial responsibility to ensure that access to both vehicle data and systems is secure, that data collected from vehicles is carefully stored and managed, and that user consent is clearly obtained and honored.  To their credit, the OEMs have acknowledged this responsibility in a statement of principles, which are regularly updated by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, representing manufacturers of nearly 99% of vehicles sold in the US.

Having taken responsibility for a secure connected car ecosystem, the OEMs are now faced with the significant challenge of ensuring that the ecosystem is well-functioning – and this is no easy task.  The ideal ecosystem will provide innovators and third parties with easy access to vehicle data as well as read/write access to vehicle systems – while at the same time ensuring that that access is highly secure and strictly compliant with all privacy, contractual, and regulatory commitments.

Some of the most difficult challenges to be solved here include:

  • On the vehicle: Each controller produces useful data and can benefit from periodic software updates and enhancements. But OEMs must strictly control the data that is extracted.  OEMs and their Suppliers must also carefully track and manage any software updates.
  • Vehicle to Cloud: innovators envision connections from vehicles to other vehicles, to road infrastructure, to merchants, and to the manufacturer’s data center. At the same time, this complex web of connections has to be managed to ensure that only authorized connections are made, and only authorized data is exchanged.
  • Cloud to Third Parties: A whole range of third parties, including dealers, insurance companies, finance companies, fleet managers, municipalities, toll operators, and many others are lining up to use connected car data to provide enhanced services. This puts data in the hands of a huge number of entities, and the OEM-designed system must ensure that all are obtaining proper consent and that only authorized data is being exchanged for authorized purposes.
  • Owner Data Management: Finally, vehicle owners expect to have a degree of control over the data produced by their vehicle. These expectations are increasingly becoming regulatory requirements.  OEM systems must therefore provide owners visibility and control over their data’s collection and usage.

Some OEMs are beginning to explore pieces to put in in place to enable innovation and ensure security.  Several start-ups have emerged with cybersecurity solutions for both on-vehicle and vehicle-to-cloud security and data management. Data aggregation startups have also emerged not only to create a market for OEM consumer data, but also to implement required security and consent management.  There are also well-established entities in industries like Finance, Insurance, and Data Management that have established methods for ensuring data security, but much more needs to be done to take full advantage of the myriad of opportunities for connected car data and commands.

Connected Car practice regularly helps our OEM, Suppliers, and technology innovator clients solve challenges inherent in building and operating secure connected car ecosystems.  Our Connected Car veterans have decades of real-world experience in building highly recognized and successful systems for many of the major OEMs.  We can help you build a system that enables disruptive innovation through secure Connected Car technologies – that also ensures responsible management of your customer’s data. Reach out and get connected with us – and we’ll help you “get” Connected.

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