The Top Challenges of Journey Intelligence

May 17th, 2022

Connected cars generate lots of data, which can be used to gain new insights and to develop a variety of smart services. What you get from this car data, in essence, is journey intelligence – the ability to, among other things, enrich the driver experience through great services. However, acquiring this data is not as easy as one might think. Moreover, you need to know how to get the most out of it, and make sure your services can handle the challenges of journey intelligence. These are the four most important challenges to consider:

Building a communication pattern designed to your needs and services

The vehicle-embedded systems enable connected cars to collect data and transmit to the cloud. An inadequate design of the communication pattern that the car uses to talk to the cloud will significantly limit the types and amount of car data that can be collected. That, in turn, limits not only the number of services that can be developed based on that data, but the capacity of those services as well. Data load handling, telecommunications costs, and what types of services you are interested in, are some important factors to consider when designing your communication pattern.

You also need to take into account the trade-off between how detailed you want your car data to be, and how much car data you want to collect. Collecting it approximately once every ten seconds during a car ride will certainly result in lots of data. However, these vast amounts can be difficult to handle, and may not even be particularly useful for the services you have in mind. If you are mostly interested in the start and end of the driver's journey, you may not need to collect a lot of data throughout it. But if you want to collect data on driver behavior, for example, you need to collect it very frequently.

Edge computing allows for more data to be processed in the car itself. That means that the car data does not have to be transmitted from the car all the time, putting less pressure on the mobile network. One option is to collect the data while the car is running, and then transmit it when the car is turned off. Again, if your service requires a steady, frequent flow of information, sending chunks of collected data when the car is not running will not be useful.

Another crucial aspect is the ability to update the software in the car over the air (OTA). This makes it possible to quickly fix communication issues that may arise. 

a woman looking at her phone while sitting in a car

Setting up a framework for what constitutes a journey

In order for your journey intelligence services to work as intended, you need to set up a framework for what actually constitutes a journey. When does a journey start? Is it when you unlock the car, or when you start the car? When the wheels start turning? Likewise, what marks the end of the journey?

Mileage reimbursement, measuring fuel consumption, or merely seeking easily comparable car usage statistics; these are some of the many situations where it is crucial to have a clear definition of what constitutes a journey. That way, you can add context to these journeys – their purpose, goals, potential challenges – and create useful journey intelligence services.

Keep in mind that these services must allow for manual adjustments to the data that has been collected. Say that you are on a business trip and decide to take a detour to visit a friend. If the detour should not be included in your mileage reimbursement, you should be able to edit it out from your mileage log.

The solution must also be intelligent enough to understand certain deviations. If your car's internet connection goes down when you enter the parking garage at work, and comes back on when you exit that garage at the end of the workday, the solution should understand that you have not been out on a long single journey, during which you were mostly offline.

Ensuring smooth handling of data spikes and major car data loads

Car data collection and transmission is not evenly distributed over the course of the day. Peak hours in the morning and afternoon will result in data spikes that you need to be able to handle in a scalable, cost-efficient way. You will want to increase your capacity for data collection when necessary, but only during those intense time intervals. You may also want a solution resilient enough to handle any possible regional mobile operator outages, which can cause the piling up of huge amounts of data and cause a ‘data flood’ towards the cloud when the mobile network is back.

Does your car send data in a cost-efficient manner to the cloud? Some communication patterns use quite a lot of data to transmit the information. This can be very costly and problematic in situations like the one outlined above. Your solution should use as little data as possible, to send as precise and useful information as possible. As proven in many different fields, having a lean communication pattern is highly beneficial – send the right amount of data at the right time.

vehicles on a city road

Maintaining user privacy in all countries and jurisdictions

Some countries have legislation that gives drivers the ability to opt out of car data collection. They can, essentially, put the car on "flight mode". Your services must be able to comply with these regulations and maintain user privacy at all times. Data must never be shared with parties that the user has not agreed to share their data with.

It is crucial to inform drivers of the advantages of car data collection, even if they do not wish to actively enrich their journeys with different services. If their car is stolen, for example, they will likely appreciate it if there is a service that can locate it for them. Popular map and positioning services obviously require data collection in the form of vehicle tracking as well.

WirelessCar has a long history of working with journey intelligence services

This is an overview of the most common challenges of journey intelligence. As you delve into the details, new challenges – and opportunities – emerge. We would know, having worked with these challenges and opportunities since the late 1990's.

Over the years, we have developed digital services for millions of cars worldwide, and learned how to get the most out of connected car data. We have faced the obstacles and learned how to overcome them. The result of this work is our product Position & Journey that enables fast development of journey intelligence services that benefit car makers and drivers alike, and that set them up for the mobility of the future.

Want to know more about our products and solutions, and how they can be useful to your business? Do not hesitate to contact me at Peter Håkanson! Visit our website to learn more about journey intelligence, our product Position & Journey, and how we work. For more articles on the opportunities and challenges of digital services for connected cars, check out our WirelessCar blog.

Peter Håkanson
Product Manager