Security, Spectrum in the Connected Vehicle

August 1, 2014  - By
Bethany Chambers

Bethany Chambers

With fall tradeshow season fast approaching and 2015 vehicles hitting the road, Scott McCormick, President of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA), took the time to answer some questions for GPS World about one key conference, CTIA’s Super Mobility Week, and what to expect in the connected vehicle market for the second half of 2014. The CVTA is a nonprofit industry group dedicated to accelerating technologies in the consumer and commercial auto market. CVTA will be well represented at Super Mobility Week, with about a third of its membership comprised of companies involved in the wireless industry. However, McCormick won’t be in attendance in Las Vegas; that’s because he’s a member of the organizing committee and will be moderating sessions at ITS World Congress, being held that same week in Detroit.

Do you think that ITS World Congress will end up cannibalizing the connected vehicle crowd from Super Mobility Week?

Yes, I think it will a lot. Most of the connected vehicle companies don’t work solely in DSRC, they work in cellular and WiFi, too, so it really depends on where their business needs are. The company with the large multinational presence will certainly be at World Congress because that’s where the networking capability is, while CTIA will be most of the cellular providers. It’s about connecting with your channel partners, your supply base and your potential customers. It’s not really about seeing new technologies, but about engaging new customers.

Will CVTA make any announcements at the shows?

On September 11, we have our summit [The 5th Summit on the Future of the Connected Vehicle] and we do have a major announcement about a new service that we are going to be providing.

Can you tell us more?

What we are announcing is about doing something that will help benefit collaborative industries. We have our core industries, but there are now insurers, data mining companies, security companies, all these other companies that are not in the automotive space that are doing things related to it. A few years ago we had people in Silicon Valley begin working in the automotive space but they didn’t understand the user interface in the car, where you need to have control and return your attention to driving as quickly as possible. All the devices they knew were designed to focus your attention. It’s the same thing today: The insurers don’t know how to work with the automakers. Neither did the telecoms. They’re completely different business models, but they’re channel partners. This is not just about a company to hire, but where can we gain utility and expertise.

So your announcement will be about reaching into a second tier of companies that just a few years ago were not involved in the connected vehicle space?

That’s a perfect way to characterize these companies; they all have to deal with interoperability issues.

What will be the hottest topics at Super Mobility Week? 

There will be three: privacy, data ownership, and security. Security is the only one that’s important, and it’s for simple reasons. The United States has no personal privacy data law and it never will. The issue is one that we’re not going to solve. Everybody wants to talk but nothing ever comes of it. 

The same question with data ownership. Why would my privacy or data ownership be device-specific? It should be device-agnostic. Anytime you transfer data, there are two levels of ownership. Of the data in the connected vehicle, an infinitesimally small amount is related to location or driving behavior. Although we talk about privacy and data ownership, nobody’s going to define data ownership. 

Security, however, is a huge issue, because once you clear a gateway into the system, it can be breached. I’m not concerned about terrorists, it’s more just teens with nothing to do who want to rock the system. I’m most concerned about the insufficiency of the code. There’s an average of 43 networks in a car, and while they’re not likely going to affect braking, that doesn’t mean if you tinker with things long enough you couldn’t figure it out and remotely control functions. That’s really sophisticated and of very low value to do it to one vehicle. 

It’s more important to ask if the overall infrastructure is protected. Systems have to be designed to be secure, detectable, and reparable. It’s incumbent upon cellular companies to take that responsibility.

Will they accept that responsibility?

If they don’t, people won’t use it. Now we understand that when a car is purchased it’s based largely on the perception of quality of service, not just on the quality of the engine or the comfort of the ride … it’s about how long until my connection breaks off and why didn’t I know about that traffic jam or that this road was icy if another guy did in a different make and model car.

How do you think this year’s show will be different from last year’s show?

Last year a lot of industries were still coming off the recession and going back to core competencies. This year I expect to see a lot of innovative companies coming out with much more focused sort of innovation where in the past it was about trying to be everything to everybody. In particular, the connected life stuff is going to be interesting because those are the people that when you look at it you’ll say, this is something I haven’t seen before or wasn’t aware of and it’s new and consequential.

The automakers will be a part of a lot of those discussions. Do you think we’ll hear anything new?

There will be some talk about the aftermarket. The average person keeps cars for 11 years. Now if I just bought a new car and next year someone has something really cool, I can’t just go buy a new car. But if I could add it … now there’s another revenue stream for the OEMs.

What are some innovations you think we’ll see hitting the market in the next year?

The machine-to-machine market is going to have a lot. Also, I just read a report that a lab figured out how to do 1000-times the data transmission speed of the fastest fiber-optic system by running it across copper. We have certain sized pipelines today and a certain time to get data from here to there, and we’re exploring how we can best do that with what we have.

By all estimates the global connected car service market is expected to top $130 billion by 2019. What will fuel that growth the most? Safety and security? Infotainment? And is that growth sustainable?

By 2020 we’re looking at a $200 billion market … and that’s going to be because of security. The problem with the automotive industry is that they have a very difficult time communicating the value proposition, because they’re used to selling business-to-business. But in the cellular industry you don’t question paying several hundred dollars a month for your phone, because they communicate that well to consumers. So the question is really one of both developing the product and service and understanding the consumer.

CTIA has talked a lot about safe driving policy and distracted driving legislation. Where do you see this policy going in the next year? 

I see the federal government moving at a glacial pace. They were 2 months late on the vehicle-to-vehicle report, they were supposed to work on the interstate commercial vehicle rule, and they’re struggling with a transportation authorization bill that’s not anywhere near where it should be. There are things that the federal government needs to be involved in and things they have no business being involved in, like setting standards. The automakers will do what the consumers want.  Look what happened with backup cameras. Even before there was legislation requiring backup cameras because of kids being hit, the automakers decided to put it on certain models because the consumers wanted it.

What policies will come into play in the next year? 

One is very critical. The American Jobs Act is pushing to allow unlicensed devices to use the 5.9 (GHz) spectrum (currently allocated to licensed Intelligent Transportation Systems), and we have conveyed what a bad idea that is. The FCC has tested it in lab conditions, not with hundreds of cars at an actual intersection. This is not like connecting a toaster and refrigerator, this is hundreds of people in the backseats of cars attempting to connect and disconnect (to WiFi). That’s the equivalent of a denial-of-service attack. Unless we deal with this soon, it’s going to be a real safety risk. The problem is once the spectrum gets reallocated, it’s going to be really hard to take it away.

About the Author: Bethany Chambers

Bethany Chambers has been a digital editor for GPS World since 2012. She also serves as digital operations manager for GPS World parent company North Coast Media. Chambers is a multimedia journalist with expertise in the business and healthcare fields who has won awards from the National Press Club and the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership. She has a masters in interactive publishing from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a bachelors in marketing from Duquesne University.