Why Data from Automated Vehicles Needs Serious Protection

April 24, 2014  - By
Image: GPS World

Concerns about data privacy aren’t going away and, in fact, are growing. Many retailers that have adopted in-store tracking technology to enhance shopping experiences and gather information on customer behavior have met with backlash. Increasingly, people are turning to a new crop of apps to safeguard how personal information is used in other apps. We have apps to guard other apps. The world is getting more confused and scary. The Heartbleed bug and other threats have heightened concern about an even more threatening vulnerability of our connected world. So how will drivers feel about increasingly automated vehicles that generate huge masses of data of an exceedingly personal nature? What happens when it is hacked?

Automated vehicles require multiple types of sensors to obtain information about the vehicle, its movement, and the surrounding environment, which includes the roadway, other vehicles, obstacles and infrastructure. All sorts of ambient information may be captured. Perhaps activity outside of your house, or your kids on their way to school, or the licenses of cars in your driveway will be caught on camera.

The massive amount of data collected needs to be crunched, and only some of it will be processed within the vehicle. Other captured data will be sent off-board to the cloud for handling, with results then returned to the vehicle. The amount of data that will be created by automated vehicles is uncertain, but I’ve seen estimates of 1 GB per second. Whatever it is, it will be immense.

What’s collecting data in a driverless vehicle? Lidar, a laser technology that uses reflected light, is identifying everything around the vehicle with great precision. Cameras are taking pictures to detect phases of traffic lights, identify stop signs, and map road lane markings. GPS is tracking the location of the vehicles and helping with navigation. Sonar is detecting objects and measuring their distance, speed and direction. And each vehicle is exchanging positioning, braking, heading and speed data with other vehicles on the road to prevent collisions.

The data generated is both of a critical and personal nature. And data that is moving in and out of the vehicle to be processed elsewhere or to communicate with other vehicles is particularly vulnerable. The consequences are far greater than a violation of privacy or a stolen identity. The operation of vehicles is at risk to be maliciously disrupted to disastrous outcome. This isn’t an issue we can put off until driverless vehicles are closer in reach. Vehicles today are increasingly equipped with safety and entertainment features that capture critical or sensitive data, any of which could present a threat in the wrong hands.



About the Author: Janice Partyka

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services, www.jgpservices.net, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of www.majorstocareers.com, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at jpartyka@jgpservices.net, www.jgpservices.net. Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at https://www.gpsworld.com/subscriptions.

3 Comments on "Why Data from Automated Vehicles Needs Serious Protection"

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  1. LiDAR Data and Privacy - LiDAR News | April 25, 2014
  1. William K. says:

    This is indeed another reason why more rational thought must be given to the advisability of driverless vehicles. ALL of that data may be available to hackers, and adequatre encryption is not likely, since much of the dta must be sent out in real time, or very close to real time, and good encryption does cause a delay. An interesting point was also made about the vehicle detecting the status of traffic controls, such as traffic lights. So what does the smart vehicle detect during those first few minutes after a traffic light controller fails, either due to a power failure or some system failure? Around here we have traffic lights going out quite a few times a year. So how manycollisions would the dumb smart vehicles have as a result of that?

  2. As the technology evolves, there will certainly need to be more safeguards in place in order to protect driver’s data. This is great article. The technology isn’t available enough at this time in order to warrant this type of protection to be implemented right away, but it’s certainly the right time to start exploring this issue.