#
 

Autonomous Vehicles, Apps and Integrated Transportation Services

February 12, 2018

New Regulations for Data Protection

Amalendu Chatterjee

The parking industry is fragmented. As a result, data collections of parking services are also fragmented.


Municipalities collect data at some levels with the help of parking operators. The municipalities still use long-outdated empirical formula for planning parking facilities. These data can hardly be used for consolidated or centralized planning of “smart cities.”


So far, data generations — and collections or uses of them in the parking industry — have not been streamlined. That may not apply completely for transportation systems, especially for “intelligent” transportation systems (ITS).


Such programs started collecting some data several years back under the sponsorship of both U.S. and state Department of Transportation (DOT) units. In parallel, they have developed well-managed regulations for the proper collections and uses of those data.


Autonomous vehicles have added another dimension. Those days may not be very far away, when autonomous (self-driving) vehicles — its applications and integration of parking and intelligent transportation systems — become the daily norm in our lives.


So, it’s time to explore different sources of upcoming transportation and parking data; of owners of those data; and of regulations surrounding the uses of those data and their benefits for stakeholders.


You are familiar with the sophisticated electronic aeronautical device commonly known as the “Black Box.” It records all in-flight conversational and navigational data. Its two components – the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) — are required by Federal Aviation Administration regulations.


The CVR records radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit. The FDR records the flight’s altitude, airspeed and direction. The rugged black box is located in what’s determined to be a usually “crash-survivable” part of the aircraft and comes with an underwater locator beacon (ULB), also known as a “pinger.”


Should tragedy strike, data collected in the black box are designed to analyze the possible reasons for a crash – e.g., pilot and mechanical errors, weather conditions, etc. Such analyses could potentially improve future aviation safety as new technologies are discovered.


In the automotive and parking industries — imitating the concept of the CVR and FDR — autonomous vehicles are getting similar black boxes, but with different capabilities appropriate for integrated transportation services.


The sophisticated technology and requirements of such an automotive black box are not guided by strict government regulations — yet. But automakers are aware of such benefits as they are making inroads with self-driving, self-parking and other autonomous functions and features for the driver’s convenience.


Smartphone applications designed by internet companies and online exchanges for use in integrated transportation services will also generate much more data than thought of before. Shaping the regulations while taking into an account different data is important, but more important are scalability
and data “extents” or usability.


So-called Big Data analytics or Big Data “mining” tools available in the marketplace for other industries need to be explored to define final criteria of regulations in integrated transportation services.


They are not exhaustive. Other data are generated while you activate different apps while driving autonomous vehicles.


Implications of these data may lead us to different sets of regulations once we fully understand them. There may be some commonalities of data with transportation services, but those are much wider, and are managed and regulated by different U.S. and state agencies under the broader umbrella of Departments of Transportation.


U.S. agencies include the FAA, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Parallel or similar state transportation administration agencies differ state by state to complement U.S. agencies.


Agencies relevant to this article are related to national highway transportation, trucking and motor coaches, automobiles and public transit. These agencies collect data, regulate industries and provide updates to regulations as and when necessary


Technology capabilities for generating data and its collections are limitless for transportation services, especially when autonomous vehicles are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). The objective of these data collections and regulations are to set limits and relevance, including ownership, while providing new transportation services. Both over-regulation and under-regulation must be avoided.


Some data are useful for city planning, reducing congestion, traffic management and supporting “Go Green” sustainability initiatives. Some may be useful for drivers, some for enforcement officers. Some may be helpful to new entrepreneurs, and some may be useful for generating new revenue.


Other industry agencies (e.g., FAA, FRA) have been collecting similar data, which were found useful. But their extents were limited, well-defined and well-bounded with appropriate responsible ownership, mostly government.


Autonomous transportation services have shifted the pendulum in many directions. To serve the parking industry better, discussions may best be guided by the following:


• Who owns the data, and what can be
collected?


There are many players in the game with differing interests. Ownerships, authorities and boundaries are to be clearly defined to preserve the fair market dynamic. Data hacking also must be protected against to prevent “ransomware” attacks. Autonomous and remote operations of vehicles on a continuous basis also are subject to hacking of keys and codes in such cyber-crimes. This represents the best opportunity to define the concept of a black box for autonomous vehicles so these data can be partitioned during crash investigations.


• What should regulations be behind such
data collections?


Regulations may be defined in many ways. They require boundaries, partitioning or openness before data generation and collection are initiated. New regulations are required to control and manage stored data — ownership. Updating older regulations in the wake of modern technologies also will be helpful for a new integrated transportation services platform and configuration.


• What benefits/harms can they do while
sharing such data?


Actionable insights of all these data are crucial. Big Data analytic tools must be deployed to visualize data in minutes with ease of use. Storing data in a “cloud” platform will assist for automatic updates and sharing with the proper personnel. Many benefits could be derived with various data related to the convenience of driving/riding, “auto-invoicing,” “autonomous payments,” selection of best or alternative route to destination, and so on. Marketing of collected data will create an economic boom in the parking industry. Along with it will come the fight over ownership and ... litigation.


Amalendu Chatterjee, Vice President-Technology at EximSoft International, can be contacted at: amalendu.chatterjee@eximsoftint.com.



#