Data Platform Terminology: The Extended Vehicle, Neutral Server and User Consent

July 2, 2019
As High Mobility is now operating as a live Neutral Server for BMW, MINI and Mercedes-Benz, we thought it was a great time to let you know what this means for third-party mobility services providers and, in addition, offer a detailed account of our relationship with these leading car manufacturers.

The Extended Vehicle Concept

The ‘extended vehicle concept’ enables a standardisation of the access to car data by third-parties and has been filed as an ISO standard, specifically ISO 20078–1. By having this ISO standard, different services and interfaces can work with the data — both anonymous and personalised vehicle data — irrespective of the system they are using. Currently, the ISO standard enables access to read-only data.

The extended vehicle concept is a framework for sharing vehicle telematics data with independent service providers.  

The extended vehicle concept functions in line with very clearly defined technical, data protection and competition rules which ensure the security of the data and the user’s privacy. It is also designed to reduce liability risks. These are huge benefits to the consumer who can be reassured that their data is not being exploited or used without their consent by any companies which have not been explicitly permitted to use it.

Personalised Vehicle Data (vehicle-based data)

Vehicle data in anonymised form has been available to independent service providers and data exchange platforms for a while, but personalised vehicle data is  enabling a new era for the car industry. It is the data that is identifiable to a certain vehicle identification number (VIN). With access to personalised vehicle data, third party services and applications are able to tailor their offerings specifically to each user, in other words - car is becoming a developer platform just like a smartphone.

The Neutral Server

The Neutral Server is described is an independent intermediary that is engaged by the carmakers in enabling data access to independent service providers. These servers are called ‘neutral’ because they are not subsidiaries of the vehicle manufacturers, but instead wholly independent of them, financially and operationally. High Mobility is operating as a Neutral Server for Mercedes-Benz, BMW & MINI vehicles, with more manufacturers being added over time.

The Neutral Server is a remote and secure server where car data can be accessed securely, without allowing third parties direct access to the user’s physical vehicle.

For the end user the Neutral Server is almost invisible. The main benefit for developers is that with a platform like High Mobility they can utilise one technical interface, and one standardised data contract to connect with all supported manufacturers.

User Consent

Though consumers are accustomed to sharing all kinds of data from their phones, authorising access to vehicle data is a new and sensitive topic. With personalised vehicle data,  users will always connect third party services with their vehicles themselves via a consent flow.

The consent flow is a series of views on a device that takes the user through the steps necessary to enable their vehicle to share selected data points with third party applications. For instance, a personalised car insurance application may want to track how much you drive your car - so you can connect the insurance application to your car and allow communication on your behalf.

Why do car manufacturers use neutral data platforms?

By entering a data partnership with a neutral server the car maker can multiply the number of businesses it can potentially work with. Most brand-specific use cases will be covered by the carmaker’s own app-suite but anything that wishes to work with multiple car makers can go through independent data platforms. In the latter case, developer support and verification responsibilities are also shifted.

Independent, standardised data platforms are multipliers to carmakers’ own data monetisation efforts.

Another benefit to car makers of using a neutral server is it allows them to cater to new data consumer segments that they might not otherwise have the bandwidth or team to cater to. By allowing third parties access to vehicle data they are letting experts in each field provide high quality services to the car drivers demanding them. Third parties with local knowledge can cater to new markets, benefiting the driver and therefore the car maker significantly.

Why are developers falling in love with standardised data platforms?

For third party services like insurance, EV charging and routing applications, maintenance services and the many hundreds of other services now looking into moving away from aftermarket hardware, a standardised data platform offers a much lower barrier of entry for accessing vehicle data. In part this is due to the fact that there is finally a way for them to build on a scalable interface without limitations. The third party can choose which neutral server it wishes to work with, and, once verified it is then free to work with the vehicle data it needs to provide an optimum service to its customers, without complicated contracts or technical integrations. Using this software means that the old system of hardware or dongles is becoming redundant and business models can be scaled more quickly  to meet the needs of a growing customer base.

What is unique about High Mobility?

High Mobility is the first car data platform that is built on openness and data privacy. Anyone can register, use our car simulators and download SDKs and sample apps to get a prototype running. High Mobility will never read, enrich, or manipulate the car data in any way.