New W3C Group Focuses on Automotive Web Platforms and Vehicle Data API Specifications

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Feb. 26 2013, 01:02PM EST

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops web standards, has announced the launch of the new "Automotive and Web Platform Business Group" which will create web technology specifications for the automotive industry starting with a Vehicle Data API Specification.

There has been a rush in the creation of connected car applications and as ProgrammableWeb's Greg Bates recently reported, car companies including Ford, GM, Toyota and BMW are racing to create vehicle-controlled app platforms and marketplaces.

The Automotive and Web Platform Business Group will focus on helping the automotive industry adopt web technologies and platforms as well as understanding W3C web specifications and standards. Specific issues related to the automobile industry will also be addressed such as reduction of driver distractions and driver safety. In the W3C press release, Roger C. Lanctot, Associate Director in the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics, states that:

"The W3C's API initiative arrives just as OEMs are laying the groundwork to bring the browser into the car via multiple means. Car makers will be looking to the W3C to help identify best practices for over the air software updates and security and the launch of the new Business Group will provide the ideal forum for those conversations."

Defining a Vehicle Data API Specification is the first priority of the group and will provide guidelines as to the types of vehicle data that should be accessible using a web API(s). There is a wide range of data that could be made accessible to app developers via web APIs such as vehicle make, model and year, vehicle conditions such as navigation, speed, climate and more. Diana Cheng, Web and Social Media Expert, Internet Standards, R&D at Vodafone Group states for the press release:

"Standardization of a Vehicle API will boost interoperability regardless of manufacturers and enrich automotive applications with vehicle data, which would increase security and user control. We believe the W3C is the right organization to ensure correct design and sandboxing of such an API so that it does not interfere with other vehicle functions; they have already been doing this for years, i.e. standardizing a large number of Web APIs that run securely in the browser's runtime. We look forward to starting collaboration with other industry players through this business group."

The concept of "car as a platform" has actually been around for several years. However, as reported by ProgrammableWeb Editor Adam DuVander, the recent launch of the OnStar API by GM seems to have sparked a "car as a platform" war. Only time will tell whether the "car as a platform" will be embraced by developers and ultimately car consumers.

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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