Identity and Access Management (IAM) Will Greatly Impact Future Connected Car Sales

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Aug. 20 2014, 11:00AM EDT

ProgrammableWeb recently published an article that covers the importance of APIs in solving problems related to the connected car industry, such as the slow pace of automotive development, the lack of Internet availability on many stretches of roadways and ensuring the security of connected car applications. Identity management is another key issue when it comes to connected cars, both for connected car manufacturers and for owners. There are many facets to identity management, including security, privacy, data retention, access and control. APIs make it possible for connected car manufacturers and developers to build solutions that address these identity management-related issues.

Connected cars collect and store a vast amount of data. This data goes well beyond a vehicle owner's personal preferences and settings. Connected cars collect driver data such as travel routes, travel destinations, car speeds, driver behavior, commute patterns and much more.

Connected cars are only a fraction of the millions upon millions of Internet-connected devices that enable users to set their personal preferences and that collect vast amounts of user data. These millions upon millions of IoT devices are helping to create a "virtual identity" for each and every user.

While this user-generated data will most likely last forever, connected cars and all the other Internet-connected devices will not. This leads to several important questions concerning connected car owners and their data:

  • What happens to connected car owners' data when they want to purchase a new car?
  • Can the car owner's data be transferred to another connected car, even if that car is made by a different manufacturer?
  • How and where is all of this connected car data being stored?
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Google is working on bringing the Android platform to connected cars. -- Image Credit: Google

At the time of this writing, there are no universal standards or agreed upon best practices among car manufacturers or the connected car industry for collecting, storing and managing connected car owner data. There are also currently no universal standards or best practices for managing a connected car owner's "Identity," which includes the storage and export of personal preferences and user history. Connected car data and user preferences are primarily stored in cloud-based silos. This data is separate from the car owner's other data and preferences set from smartphones and computer applications. However, in the future, it is very likely that a connected car owner's "Identity," along with connected car user data, will be stored by third-party cloud-based Identity and Access Management (IAM) providers.

According to a recent ZDNet article, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 60% of all digital identities interacting with enterprises will come from external identity providers through a competitive marketplace, up from less than 10% today. In addition, Gartner predicts that by 2020, the Internet of Things will redefine the concept of "identity management" to include what people own, share and use.

While there are currently no universal standards for storing and managing a connected car owner's personal preferences and data, there are several companies that provide different types of solutions when it comes to connected car owner data and identity management.

Covisint offers OEMs and other enterprises cloud-based identity and access management solutions that allow digital identity management and security processes to be centralized and automated. Covisint also provides developers access to the platform via an Identity Services API. At the C3 Connected Car Conference that took place in June, Covisint chief security officer David Miller explained how the company views connected cars:

"We [Covisint] look at things a little differently, we provide connectivity platforms in the cloud for several OEMs but we really think of it as 'connected owner.' It's really the owner that is connected, the vehicle is a connection point but it is the owner that is really the thing that's connected in most cases to their life."

Last October, ProgrammableWeb reported that Utah-based company Fuse is developing a platform that links a connected car owner's data to their own personal storage area in the cloud. The Fuse app uses an onboard sensor and a mobile app to collect and store connected car owner data. The general idea behind Fuse is to not only collect connected car data but make that data "useful to a person’s everyday life."

Automatic is a platform that automatically connects a car to a smartphone via an auto accessory called the Automatic Link. The accessory communicates with the car’s onboard computer and uses a smartphones' GPS and data plan to provide the car owner with important information such as driving style (rough braking, speeding, etc), engine information, driving destination, timelines and more. There is currently an Alpha version of the Automatic API available to developers.

Earlier this month, ProgrammableWeb reported that MuleSoft (parent company of ProgrammableWeb), announced the general availability of the Anypoint Platform for APIs July release, which includes new identity management functionality. This new identity management feature is supported by PingFederate, which is a full-featured federation server providing identity access, management and security. PingFederate allows platforms to essentially "connect everyone to everything."

Last November, ProgrammableWeb reported that Splunk is working with Ford Motor Company to created connected car dashboards that contain analytics applications using telemetry data exposed via the OpenXC API. Analytics dashboards are a great way to provide connected car owners data about their driving habits, how much gas they use, and other practical driving information.

CloudMade Mapsafe is a platform designed for OEMs that is described by the company as a product that "manages user identity, profiles and associated location data like favorite places, routes and preferences. Its bi-directional sync capabilities keep users' data in sync across multiple cars, devices and applications." Mapsafe also provides developers cross-platform SDKs and a suite of CloudMade APIs.

Very few people are unfamiliar with the Android platform, especially when it comes to Android smartphones. Google makes it possible for Android smartphone users to sync applications, data and personal preferences with their Google account. Google is taking this one step further by creating the Open Automotive Alliance, a group of automaker and technology partners dedicated to bringing the Android OS to connected cars. Owners of connected cars that feature the Android OS will be able to manage their connected car user preferences and data using their Google account. Google currently makes it possible for users to sync Android wear, smartphones and tablets, Android TV, and soon connected cars, all with one Google account.

In an article published earlier this month, Earl Perkins, research VP, information security and privacy at Gartner, wrote that:

"I believe the IoT is forcing an inflection point in the industry that manages assets and user identities. It will generate a lively debate around the Identity of Things (maybe we’ll call it the IDoT, who knows) and ultimately will result in an updated view of identity management. Perhaps we will even see a day when the Identity of Things will evolve into a form of identity relationship management. The future is full of possibilities."

The rapidly expanding Internet of Things is not only leading to new and innovative applications and technologies, but also to new and innovative ways in which IoT-generated data is collected, stored, used and analyzed. How connected car manufacturers manage user data and identity will have a huge impact on future connected car sales and the connected car industry as a whole.

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, open data, data visualization and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

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