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Connected Vehicle Data Often Goes Underutilized, Study Finds

A new report by Otonomo took a look at how cities and states are (or aren't, more accurately) using connected vehicle data, finding that only a small fraction of transportation organizations use this data.

Computer graphic showing connected vehicles on a roadway.
The use cases for connected vehicle data, and the sort of trends around new forms of mobility and next-gen transportation technologies are only going to increase as the technology becomes more common on U.S. roadways.

A recent study, released by mobility intelligence software company Otonomo, examined how 50 smart cities spanning 26 states in all parts of the country are using this sort of vehicle data. What the study found was that this data is often not used to its full potential.

“The more ubiquitous connected cars become, the easier it will be to collect, cleanse and share the data these cars generate in near real time,” said Ben Volkow, company co-founder and CEO.

The study found that only 8 percent of survey respondents — a mix of data scientists, transportation officials and others — are actually using connected vehicle data.

Most of the data flowing into organizations like transportation departments falls in the category of “legacy” data in the form of in-road sensors and security cameras. A portion — 16 percent of respondents, to be exact — reported using data from manual traffic counts and mobile phones.

Connected vehicles now make up 41 percent of the new car market, according to the report.

“This number could grow to 115 million annual sales by 2025, driven in great part by the transition to electric vehicles,” said Volkow.

Though data use may have some catching up to do, industry watchers seem to be well attuned to the drastic shifts in transportation technology and its possibilities.

“We’re living in a time where the velocity of ideas and technology that’s coming to transportation is like we’ve never seen before. And the demand for progress in transportation is like we’ve never seen in a long time,” said Ben Marcus, partner with venture capital firm UP Partners during the CoMotion LA conference late last year.

The future of transportation data, according to the Otonomo report, lies in real-time vehicle data, allowing for more concise decisions around traffic management.

“For the main use cases we’re seeing, the accuracy of embedded, in-car vehicle data combined with its processing cost makes it a no-brainer to rely on when developing next-gen services,” said Volkow.

“The ability to access and use near real-time data from multiple sources is what will create a tipping point that will make it easier to design mobility infrastructure and applications for smart cities,” he added.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.

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