The average car on the road today generates a mind-boggling amount of data. With sensors monitoring everything from tire pressure to engine RPM to oil temperature and speed, cars can produce anywhere from 5 to 250 gigabytes of data an hour.
“Most people don’t understand what makes data big,” says Scott McCormick, president of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association and industry adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “A car may produce an exabyte of data a year (a billion gigabytes), but most is completely meaningless. Isolating the megabyte of data a month that’s really valuable, and then figuring out what you can do with it, that’s the challenge of Big Data.”
So the question is: Why aren’t more automakers capitalizing on the value contained in Big Data?
The vast majority of this data is used in real time to control or report on the functions of the vehicle and has no real long-term value. But some of the data is valuable, and if you multiply that fraction by the billion cars on the road today, it doesn’t take more than basic arithmetic to understand why Big Data is attracting so much attention in the automotive space – and should be more utilized by the automakers themselves.
What Carmakers Can Do With Big Data – Helping Dealers & Customers:
On the simplest level, processing Big Data effectively allows OEMs to identify and respond to system-wide problems in a faster and more-cost effective manner.
A Case in Point:
Take a standard 2013 model vehicle with an infotainment system in the dashboard. And let’s imagine it features a weather app that displays the latest forecast. Only today, the driver gets in her car and discovers the app is frozen. All she can see is sunshine from the weekend, even though it’s Monday, and rain clouds outside her windshield are spelling rain.
In a non-Big-Data world, if the problem persists, our driver has to head into the dealership to get the weather app fixed, as does every other driver who’s experiencing the same problem. If the problem were serious enough (imagine the infotainment glitch causes engine failure), it could lead to a recall, which would represent a significant cost burden for the OEM and inconvenience and frustration for the customer.
Big Data won’t necessarily do anything for our driver on that overcast Monday morning. What it will do is allow the OEM to see if this problem is occurring in a certain region or is common across all regions. Furthermore, it will allow the OEM to detect if a specific sequence of activities or patterns of failures is triggering the glitch, without recalling all of the problematic cars or waiting for them to come into the dealership. In this case, perhaps our driver changed a channel on her Internet radio app, then went to the weather app, and the interaction of the two apps somehow caused the system to freeze.
What Does Automaker Big Data Mean For the Dealership?
Big Data opens up a more proactive stance than the wait-until-trouble-strikes-and-we’ll-quickly-mitigate-the-problem approach.
Leveraging Big Data to understand how customers actually use their products.
For more on the subject,Visit Telematics Update and see Q&A: Personalizing the connected car experience and Video: Telematics and big data.