Location based telematics services: “big brother” is watching you?

Location based telematics services: “big brother” is watching you?

Wireless connectivity and telematics solutions in the automotive industry are already enabling a growing number of new smart mobility applications. By combining a car’s GPS location with data from the car network and sending that data over a secured wireless connection to a back office, many new solutions like Stolen Vehicle Tracking have become available.

emergency  call NXPProbably one of the most impactful application of recent years is the introduction of emergency call (or eCall for short). The EU is even mandating e-call capabilities in all new cars from 2015.  The system automatically alerts the emergency services after an accident (also see article on Wired)

But, with increasing privacy concerns and changing attitudes towards governments, there is a concern about what happens to that data that is sent from the car: What is used for? How is it stored and shared? Will governments be able to track every single journey?

The eCall system is dormant – it only sends out data if an accident occurs.  Data – such as about when an airbag is activated – will be transmitted specifically to help emergency services to gather details about impact of a collision and exact location. The emergency call centres (PSAPs) will store the data related to the eCall for a determined period of time, in accordance with national regulations and with Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.

What about other applications? How do we ensure that every application is as secure as this?

Firstly, in order to ensure that hackers cannot use the data link for malicious purposes, it is vital that telematics systems and communications are secure. Secondly, a guarantee of privacy will be crucial; transparency about what happens with stored data (like location) is vital for widespread adoption – and to mitigate consumer concerns. And, the whole ecosystem needs to be involved –  a continuous open and  transparent dialogue between all the stakeholders in such a project.

Do you think it is possible to create an ecosystem without the risk that governments can use data for other goals?  Join the discussion in the Connected car professionals LinkedIn group, or share your thoughts below.

Maurice Geraets
Maurice Geraets
Maurice Geraets is Senior Director Business Development Automotive at NXP Semiconductors. He has worldwide responsibility for new business development in NXP's Automotive business focusing on Mobility Solutions and Intelligent Transport Systems.

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