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Then and Now: How CVD Evolved into the Best Source for Understanding Roadway Trends

September 8, 2021
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Connected vehicles are cars with a wireless internet connection. Because of that connection, they can communicate with external devices and applications – from roadside sensors and other vehicles to smartphones and GPS navigation. While many cars on the road today are considered “connected,” that number is set to increase with in-car sensors and artificial intelligence advancing by the day. Experts predict the international connected car market will grow 270% by 2022, with more than 125 million vehicles, with embedded connectivity, expected to ship by then. These connected vehicles together generate a massive amount of data every day, something we call Connected Vehicle Data, or CVD. Never has there been such a detailed and reliable data source to tell us about how we travel and uncover insights from the roads that can change the way we live for the better.

How did we get here?

CVD was not always what it is today. It was a long road to get here. The concept of a car being connected was first introduced in the late 90s, with General Motors (GM) introducing OnStar in three of their famous ‘Cadillac’ models. According to GM, Onstar was first positioned as a proponent of driver assistance technology by providing the first embedded telematics system, before commercial use of satellites and wireless networks. The first feature installed was the emergency call to promote safety and get assistance after an accident.

In the early 2000s, car connectivity began to take off with the introduction of GPS navigation and remote diagnostics. As cameras and sensors advanced and smartphones were becoming commonplace through the first decade of the 21st century, connected vehicles began to hold a prominent place in the rapidly advancing Internet of Things (IoT). Everything seemingly was being connected to the internet and carmakers began investing in wireless technology to do things like avoiding collisions when parking and streaming music and radio shows.

What began as a quest to make the drivers’ experience more enjoyable and sell more cars through innovative features has today evolved into an entire industry and serves as the critical foundation to our autonomous future. Sensors have evolved, and computing has matured, so much that today vehicles can have upward of 100 sensors onboard, each constantly pinging external devices or cloud storage systems.

Ushering in the Era of CVD

The explosive growth of advanced sensors and cloud-based connectivity generates an unprecedented amount of CVD. According to AAA, an average American spends 17,600 minutes driving annually. When combined with the amount of sensor data estimated, one car could produce between 380 TB to 5,100 TB of data in just one year.

What kind of information can that data tell us? Because it is so massive, with more and more cars becoming connected every day, CVD can provide rich insight into what is happening both outside and inside the car, from identifying hard braking events and slowdowns to monitoring windshield wiper activity and fuel stops. These kinds of data points that, when extrapolated from one connected car and combined with millions more, provides an accurate, reliable source that can help us understand specific trends on the roads.

While other sources like mobile phone data can be useful for some scenarios, if you’re looking to specifically understand information related to vehicle travel behaviors and traffic patterns, CVD is unique in its value. Because it is a single-source data set, CVD ensures the data comes directly from the car and its advanced sensors. Wejo’s CVD is low-latency and reliable, updated every three seconds and has a latency of under a minute. It covers 95% of road networks, holds historical data of up to three years, and gives detailed measurements like flow, speed, congestion level, queue lengths, and weather conditions.

The final word

CVD can unlock insights that organizations have never had access to and cut down the time to fully understand things like congestion and dangerous road conditions. According to Darcy Bullock, Director of the Joint Transportation Research Center at Purdue University,  
“Connected vehicles know more about road infrastructure than many agencies do.”  

Bullock and his team published research that found that the more than 400 billion passenger vehicle trajectory data available today can help agencies evaluate their road networks. Having used CVD himself for projects as a Wejo customer, Bullock notes, “We can now carry out a months’ worth of analysis within 45 mins, that previously would have taken 2-3 years.”

Read Darcy's full research paper on the reliability of CVD in understanding roadway trends now.

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Then and Now: How CVD Evolved into the Best Source for Understanding Roadway Trends
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