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The new mobility and digital identity: Security, data and connected services

Carmakers are definitely in the running for pole position in new mobility. Their core challenge? To master the new digital technologies now taking root within the vehicle itself, as well as in the secure delivery of new digital services directly to the consumer.

The digital and connected car already poses significant security challenges for the automotive industry. The electronic backbone of most cars — the CAN bus — was designed decades ago, well before people thought about cybersecurity.

Since then, innovations such as connected HD displays, 4G connectivity, assisted driving and a myriad of comfort features have each added their own electronic control unit (ECU) to the CAN bus. Today, upwards of 100 ECUs can be found in the typical new car, all listening and talking to the CAN bus.

Connection extends beyond the vehicle

Connected cars now extend both services and data beyond the vehicle itself. Most new cars already communicate with their drivers through remote keyless systems and smartphone apps controlling features like programmable heating, GPS and in-vehicle infotainment.

Connected cars also feed data on location, RPM, speed, mission-critical ECU failures and diagnostic functions back to the automaker’s back end. Full internet coverage, including streaming music and video, will soon be widespread in the market, and new standards like automotive Ethernet are on the horizon.

There’s much more to come. Assisted and autonomous driving will add more ECUs and data-generating sensors to the vehicle’s architecture. Cars will exchange data with other cars and surrounding infrastructure such as charging stations, traffic lights, stop signs and even pedestrians crossing the street around the corner. Autonomous cars allow time to be spent watching movies and listening to music.

Moreover, with the rise of the internet of things, there will be even more opportunity for connection between vehicles and drivers’ personal devices, whether smartphones, wearables, health monitoring devices, sensory augments like smart glasses or other devices we can only speculate about right now. The types of interactions between automobile and driver that may become feasible in a decade — or less — will put even more burdens on connected cars.

In early 2017, Intel reported that autonomous cars will soon generate 4 TB of data each day, including inter-ECU traffic as well as external communications. That kind of high-volume connectivity creates tremendous potential for hackers to read or manipulate data. The ideal solution would be “security by design,” rebuilding the electronic backbone of the car around today’s knowledge and experience of cybersecurity.

Assembling a digital technology ecosystem

Digital technology is far from the traditional core competency of an automotive OEM. This includes not just the technical enablement of the connected car, but also its relevant services platforms and KPIs, as well as the entire commercial and technical framework for new mobility services (car, payment, connectivity, media, etc.).

For an OEM undergoing transformation, the question is: Shall I rebuild my entire ecosystem with all the needed services infrastructure and build an OEM-specific walled garden? Or shall I focus on my own core competencies and experiences, and build the APIs needed to interface with third-party services that already existing on the customer side? In either case, a perfect, seamless user experience requires several services categories to be combined:

  • Connectivity to bring connected cars online — not the traditional connectivity of telematics, but the customer-focused connectivity to enable user services from voice calling to video streaming that that turn the car into the third living room.
  • Payment to activate m- and e-commerce services to pay for everything from onboard digital content to tolls, energy, parking and drive-thru food.
  • Public services to seamlessly allow a consumer to drive or use a specific category of vehicles at a given moment, including public transport.
  • Energy to recharge or refuel a car, or let the car recharge or refuel itself.
  • Travel- and event-related services beyond pure mobility that integrate seamlessly into the purpose of the trip, such as digital event tickets, digital hotel keys and digital ambient tour services.

Services in all of these categories are already available, accessed through digital, user-specific service credentials or logins — and they’re already used and paid for by consumers in their daily lives.

Digital identity drives the ecosystem

Considering the complexity of this environment — especially in light of the fact the user is in motion, transitioning constantly between networks and nodes — the need for robust digital identity technologies is all too apparent.

Without them, the entire ecosystem described above isn’t simply at risk, but is impossible to imagine as a viable reality. User identities and the services associated with new mobility, from financial to communication to even social media — will depend on portable yet defensible digital user identities to allow any integration whatsoever to succeed.

In our next article, we’ll delve into how new mobility will impact the very business models that carmakers and other technology contributors will need to evolve in order to deliver this new model. Without that evolution, they’ll be under a very real threat of extinction.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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