Before Regulating Next-Generation Mobility Data, We Must Understand That Data

By Evangelos Simoudis, Ph.D., Managing Director, Synapse Partners

As connected vehicles become commonplace and we start using autonomous vehicles for a variety of consumer and corporate mobility services, we will need to address issues relating to the big data associated with the vehicles and their applications. 

Many of the companies that will employ autonomous vehicles will use such data in insights-enabled business models. The recent events relating to the misuse of data collected by Internet and ecommerce companies demonstrated that legislators and the public at large came to realize, a) the leverage such companies now possess through the dominant positions of the free and frequently personalized services they offer in exchange for the data they collect, b) the risks associated with not properly safeguarding this data, c) the legislators lack of detailed understanding about how the data is collected and used by these companies and their partners, and d) how difficult it will be to regulate the collection, processing, AI-based exploitation, and use of this data in a way that is agreeable to both consumers and businesses.

As we consider the monetization of transportation-related data, it is necessary to understand who the main generators and users of this data are, who owns each type of generated data, the risks that may arise from mishandling the collected data, and whether existing and proposed regulations relating to autonomous vehicles and more broadly next-generation mobility suffice or need to be augmented.

People who will rely on autonomous vehicles for personal mobility, for example, ride-hailing and ridesharing services, logistics, and specialized applications such as  emergency response, will need to develop the four following types of trust with the companies that will use autonomous vehicles to offer such solutions. 

  1. Trust that the autonomous vehicle will operate correctly as it travels to each intended destination.
  2. Trust that only data necessary for providing the desired mobility services will be collected by the companies involved in the value chains associated with such solutions.
  3. Trust that the collected data and associated inferences will adhere to established regulations and will be properly safeguarded.
  4. Trust that the data and the inferences won’t be used in a way that is nefarious and harmful.

In considering how to regulate the data associated with autonomous vehicles it is important not to repeat what we are now facing with Facebook and other internet technology companies. These companies created the technology, built business models to monetize the data they collect, and now through regulation governments are trying to clean up the mess associated with personal privacy, reputation, safety, and security. 

Consumers, corporations, startups, and governments can’t afford to follow the same sequence with autonomous vehicles and next-generation mobility.

An extended version of this article can be found here.

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