We’re drowning in data. Everyone knows it has value but getting hold of the right data and knowing how to deliver value is a skill that eludes many of us.

A few weeks ago at CyberUK I was asked if my car should talk to my toaster. For me this is a categorical NO – there seems to be a proliferation of frivolous IoT innovations that add little to human existence, but take away much in terms of privacy and security.

Even so, I guess if there is a market for it who am I to judge? Perhaps the more important question is if people find there are benefits from car-to-toaster dialogue then we should be assured that these are private and secure.

Should my car talk to my toaster? (It's a data thing)

Even so there are serious and valuable uses for connected car data now and into the future. There are opportunities to create new Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) businesses, opportunities to improve air quality, opportunities to reduce congestion opportunities to improve maintenance and opportunities to save lives.

If my car could talk to my road authority it could report potholes or skid hotspots. It could spot bad weather and direct gritters. It could detect stopped vehicles in unsafe locations and request help.

If my road authority could talk to my car it could optimize traffic lights to reduce fuel consumption and improve air quality. It could direct my car on more efficient routes and improve my journey. It could tell me exactly where the best parking space was for my desired journey’s end.

If my mobility service provider could talk to me and my car I could get the right vehicle for the job I want to perform exactly when I need it. I could plan my journeys based on the most important criteria for me things like comfort, environment could be brought into play.

For all the above ‘Use Cases’ the benefits are magnified when applied to freight and industrial transportation. Keeping heavy vehicles moving and optimizing deliveries have huge economic, societal and environmental benefits. Indeed, Transport Systems Catapult estimates the total additional benefits from opening up data sharing to be £15bn by 2025.

Besides the obvious uses of data for generating benefits directly in the real world there are also significant benefits of exploiting it in virtual and simulated environments. Data aggregated from the real world can be used to test everything from national transport models though to how autonomous AI might perform before it even gets near a real road. An explosion of data availability should have serious significant benefits in terms of improving safety and environments before vehicles are made or asphalt is laid.

A Complementary Ecosystem

Meridian Mobility, as the gateway to the UK’s CAV testing and development ecosystem, is working with the Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to create a seamless testing and development ecosystem across the UK that will accelerate the benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Making high quality data discoverable and available (if not free) underpins the delivery of the UK’s world class CAV testing environments and allows develop new business models, improved social and environmental outcomes. But currently much of the data we need for this is siloed across different organization who have different levels of ability to use it and not a lot of incentive to share it.

The Big Win - Rapid Feedback Loops

So we know we can do great things with CAV data (way beyond toast optimization) but successive reports point towards a market failure in sharing.

Go Science reported that “Autonomous Vehicle (AV) manufacturers siloing data from telematics, GPS and autonomous systems due to its perceived commercial value.” And “Second order data derived from analysis and combining datasets is considered to generate the most value” but “Clear ownership and conditions of use are key to enabling data sharing”

TSC reports the barriers exist “due to organisations being fearful of breaches in privacy, security and safety”, “perceptions that the costs of sharing outweigh the benefits” and “barriers across the sector leading to siloed thinking and not sharing data beyond organisations’ own mode of transport”

In short there is huge value to be gained from sharing data and generating insights from it. But transport organizations don’t know how to do it effectively and don’t really understand enough about what is in it for them to find out how to share and utilize data.

Meridian Mobility has been asked by CCAV to look at how government, industry and academia can work together to remove these blockers and try to unlock the potential of data sharing that in a way that respects security and privacy.

To do this we co-hosted a workshop with KTN and Innovate UK earlier this month. This was attended by Local and National Government, start-ups, SMEs security companies, data warehouses and academics.

Data word cloud

Here are some of the key insights from the workshop:

How can we stimulate data sharing?

o   Data Markets – Data in exchange for advantage is needed. Could we create a data sharing economy? What would a data sharing market place look like? Perhaps we could create a ‘stock exchange’ approach which includes licence frameworks as part of the trading platform?

o   Open Data – could we create a framework where all data from public funded projects are shared? Open data does not necessarily mean free data; discoverability and accessibility are key points.

o   Legislation – what can the government do to incentivise sharing? What would a government backed framework with ‘rules of the game’ look like?

Who owns the data and where does it come from?

o   Local and national authorities generate huge amounts of data how do we include this?

o   Data from vehicles are being collected by manufactures but who owns this data? The manufacturer or the vehicle owner?

o   New vehicles shouldn’t only be the focus, how could data be collected from existing vehicles?

Data quality

o   Standards for data will be a really important wat to improve accessibility and usability of data, how do we arrive at these standards?

o   Measures of performance, accuracy and integrity of the data are important, how do we capture and communicate these?

Privacy and security

o   People care about how their data are captured and used – how do we ensure the highest legal and ethical standards for privacy and security of data?

o   Can data be anonymized at source to protect individuals while still maximizing the societal and economic gains?

o   Where individuals’ data are being utilized they need to understand what they are getting in return.


o   Safety data should not belong to individual organizations how do we define safety data and how to we ensure it is shared.

o   How can we ensure that safety critical data are most effectively made available and utilized?

As I have explored the issues surrounding sharing of connected and autonomous vehicles two main areas have come up again and again that might help open up data sharing, safety and market places.

The case for safety is easy – all data that are safety critical should be shared as a default. But how do you define what data are critical for safety? Do the data define the conditions on the road like temperature and rainfall? Do the data give specific information about the breaking efficacy of an individual vehicle? It’s clear that we need to address this, but we can’t legislate now – we simply don’t understand what is needed or what is missing. Because of this we are starting to explore options for bringing government and industry together to discover what is really needed and how we can get there.

In terms of data markets there seems to be an appetite to explore more commercial models for data sharing. If organizations understand what they are giving up and what they are getting back, we might be able to create a real incentive for data to be made available. Several companies are already looking at business models to do this, but it feels like a push from government is needed to catalyze these. Data need to be discoverable and accessible to realize their full benefits but in order to get the best quality data made available they’re unlikely to be provided free of charge.

So back to the toaster, should it talk to my car – I still say NO. I simply don’t trust my toaster with my data and don’t see an advantage. For me I want to understand what I’m getting for giving up my data what are the safety and personal benefits and how my data are being secured? Whatever we do to try and open up data sharing for connected and autonomous vehicles we will be striving to attain the highest standards of security and privacy both for individuals and the nation at large.


Dr Richard Porter
Technology Strategy
15 May 2018