Nearly 12 percent of new vehicles sold last year were “connected” — meaning they were equipped with devices that collect data and transmit it to the dealer or some other private company.
Some even pinpoint slick spots on roads, but Iowa Department of Transportation director Paul Trombino says government agencies like his don’t have access to that information. “They’re the ones collecting the data,” Trombino says. “It’s not coming to us and I think there’s a big question on what happens to the data.”
Privacy advocates say government shouldn’t have access to that kind of data. Nearly all new vehicles have the equivalent of a “black box” to record speed and braking at the time of an accident and U.S. courts are starting to decide vehicle crash cases in which that “black box” evidence is being used. Automakers are even marketing cars that use computerized equipment to avoid accidents.
The Iowa DOT’s director says if governments ultimately have access to vehicle data, he’s most interested in getting that information to other drivers, so they can avoid crash sites, traffic back-ups and bad road conditions.
“We want to make sure that we’re prepared to get the best advantage for the citizens of the state. And so, what are the things we need to do?” Trombino says. “That’s what’s being debated right now.”
Iowa and other states are already using a service called INRIX right now to process data from traffic management centers which collect information from roadway sensors, traffic cameras and accident reports.