Volvo CIO: Data privacy is now a priority alongside car security and safety

Data privacy now plays into Volvo's mission to ensure the health and wellbeing of its drivers, its CIO reveals

A change to Volvo's business model means data privacy has become a top priority along with the safety and security of its cars, the carmaker's CIO told ComputerworldUK during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this morning.

Connected cars can communicate personal data about drivers, including their entertainment preferences, their location and even if their nearest road needs gritting due to ice - and the security of this information is of utmost importance.

Volvo CIO Klas Bendrik told ComputerworldUK: "At Volvo both security and safety has always been very important. That relates both to physical safety and virtual safety - and privacy is one aspect of that so when it comes to customer data, in our situation, the customer always owns the data. We do not sell or use the data in anyway without opting in or getting consent from the customer."

Driver data that carmakers are beginning to collect could be valuable for telco firms that could offer the opportunity for location-based advertising through the dashboard and insurance firms that can use telemetry to tailor driver premiums.

Similarly, rival BMW said it would not be selling its growing bank of driver data as its vehicles become more connected. However the German carmaker faced criticism when it emerged it had not encrypted its connected platform's data network, leaving thousands of its cars vulnerable to thieves who were able to unlock car doors using a smartphone.

At Mobile World Congress this week, Volvo has announced a new system that warns drivers of slippery road conditions ahead, based on its new cloud platform.

The technology, currently testing in Sweden, pulls data from wheel sensors to detect when tyres hit black ice. When that happens, the car transmits a GPS location to the private Volvo Cloud platform, hosted by Ericsson, which then sends the data to other vehicles nearby that are equipped with the system.

Drivers of those cars see a small warning icon on the dashboard to alert of the black ice ahead. The icon gets bigger as the car approaches the dangerous area, said Erik Israelsson, project leader for safety at Volvo, during a demonstration at Mobile World Congress.

The system is also hooked into the car's hazard lights and will detect when they are activated. At that time, it sends an alert to nearby cars warning that a road hazard lies ahead.

The technology is part of a new fully connected vehicle, Bendrik told ComputerworldUK, supported by the Volvo Cloud.

The carmaker will be sharing icy road data gathered during the pilot with road authorities, Bendrik said, so they can improve safety on the roads through gritting or public announcements.

Image: Volvo

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