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Data Platforms Are Helping to Shape America’s EV Landscape

Companies like Intertrust Technologies and StreetLight Data are developing new data tools for the planners integrating electric vehicles and charging infrastructure into the broader transportation network.

The new and varying amounts of data surrounding electric vehicles has technology makers scurrying to develop new tools for policymakers, planners, charger operators and utilities.

Intertrust Technologies, the maker of technology to ensure the safe transfer of data, has developed a platform to allow the easy and safe transfer of data related to the placement of charging infrastructure.

Meanwhile, StreetLight Data, a traffic transportation analysis firm, has developed a new tool that gives planners the full picture of how EVs are being used across a transportation network.

“We have all these different data types that can really paint a better picture of what needs to be done, but it’s all held in silos and a lot of these organizations are reluctant — or challenged — to share this data,” said Chris Kalima, vice president of product management at Silicon Valley-based Intertrust.

“So that’s really where the Intertrust platform can step in, as an enabling piece of the architecture,” he added, in an interview with Government Technology.

Intertrust is working with Clean Fuels Ohio, a nonprofit coalition working to advance efficient and environmental approaches to transportation, to develop a plan to locate high-speed electric vehicle charging along the Interstate 80 mid-America corridor.

Clean Fuels Ohio has “good connections with all of these stakeholders,” remarked Kalima. “These stakeholders can then provide their data into the platform.”

Intertrust works with Clean Fuels Ohio to create visualizations, maps and other tools to display the data. These various pieces can be layered on top of each other to accomplish other analysis such as simulating grid infrastructure and the impact of a charging station.

“It really provided this comprehensive data orchestration across the different stakeholders, municipalities, the distribution system operators, different third-party services that were providing data,” said Kalima.

Similarly, StreetLight Data is also developing EV-specific tools. The company recently released EV Mode, a new analytics tool that sits atop the other traffic and transportation analysis products by StreetLight Data, and parses out EV trips from those of gas-powered cars, said Kevin Hathaway, vice president for services at StreetLight Data.

EV Mode will help to support policy and planning questions raised by cities and the other organizations using StreetLight Data “at a time when so many of them have been asking about empirical data on EV travel," said Hathaway, speaking on a panel Jan. 10 at the annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference in Washington, D.C.

“What’s really interesting about isolating the EV Mode specifically … it helps get to the point, can we prove or disprove a lot of hypotheses? The EV frontier is so new, and there’s a lot of questions that are unanswered,” he added.

“We have so much more data at our fingertips than we ever did before, and we have an obligation to use it,” said Jennifer Duval, a vice president and regional solutions director with consulting firm Jacobs, during the TRB panel.

Data related to the planning of EV charging sites is one application for the Intertrust platform. Operations is another. Here too, the safe and efficient transfer and sharing of data is needed among a number of stakeholders, particularly with the growing need for charging stations to respond to different events which can impact electric demand in the area.

For example, charging stations may need to curtail energy use during an extreme weather event, or allow for the reverse flow of electricity from cars back to the grid, as bidirectional charging technology advances.

“It’s the whole ecosystem,” said Kalima.

“It’s going to be more difficult, and more critical, to have access to timely data that not only reflects the state of the grid, but the state of adoption, these demographics, I think all of that will become very, very important,” 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.