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10 January 2020

CES sets stage for annual data marketplace rant, Here unveils updates

It is no secret that Riot has been very keen on the concept of data marketplaces – platforms on which companies and even consumers can sell and buy data that they contribute. Here has been at the forefront of the trend for some time, but has still not dived in head first. However, its latest CES announcement suggests that 2020 might actually be the year of the data marketplace, although it might have a strong automotive bent to begin with.

The news is that Here has added neutral server capabilities for Here Marketplace, meaning that the process can be run on ‘neutral’ platforms, to appease the automakers’ collective unease with letting any other third-party services into their IT backends. Instead, the neutral servers provide a safe place in which to experiment with these new experiences, and Daimler is already using the new offering.

Here promises that the new system ‘enables safe, secure and non-discriminatory access for third party service providers to car sensor data from multiple brands, while simultaneously adhering to privacy regulations.’ To this end, Here developed a GDPR-compliant mechanism, which is apparently based on blockchain technologies, which essentially generates a ‘consent request’ for each car that can be revoked by the car’s owner.

The work stems from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), which kicked off a concept development project in 2016, to see how to make vehicle-gathered data available to third-party services. It aims to protect user data, ensure that the cars aren’t compromised, and protect the automaker’s IP. The ACEA project seems to have wide European stakeholder buy-in.

“With our neutral server we can offer car manufacturers like Daimler a trusted, safe and secure distribution channel to share their car sensor data that is compliant with European legislation and privacy regulations,” said Giovanni Lanfranchi, Here’s CTO. “This creates a win-win-win situation for OEMs, service providers and drivers alike: while it opens up new monetization opportunities for car manufacturers, it spurs innovation among service providers to create new digital solutions that drivers will ultimately benefit from.”

Here wants to ensure that it can create an ecosystem around the automotive data, which of course it can then monetize. It points to real-time traffic analysis, road safety, parking, and insurance as obvious use cases, and says that Daimler will initially be providing four data sets to the third parties – Vehicle Status (windows, doors, sunroof, lights), Electric Vehicle Status (charge state, range), Fuel Status (fuel level, range), and Vehicle Lock Status (direction of travel, lock status, unlock status).

To this end, there is only one initial use case being provided by Daimler, which will be Pay-as-You-Drive Insurance. This will provide driving distances to insurers, who can then use this data to price their policies accordingly. Hopefully, more third parties see the potential, and other automakers join the service.

But the next step for the Here Open Location Platform (OLP) Marketplace is obvious – incorporate all manner of IoT data and become a very rich middleman. Last CES, we noted that the stage was now set for Here, and yet we’re another year on and the jump hasn’t happened yet. There are plentiful open resources that could be incorporated into it, and Terbine is perhaps Here’s closest rival in this regard.

So while automotive mapping might be the initial use case for the likes of Here, we think there is a huge amount of money on the table if it can finally take the plunge and become a global IoT data broker – using its automotive partnerships to create a near-real time view of the world, integrating huge freely available data repositories, and acting as the foundation on which all manner of IoT applications can be built.

The OLP Marketplace is available, but it needs to travel a long way before regular consumers can start contributing data to it. It is still too corporate and automotive-focused, from what we can see, but all the mechanisms are in place to create the central place to trade IoT data – especially with the backing of its investors.

On that note, there has also been a bit of a shakeup in Here’s shareholders. Mitsubishi and NTT clubbed together to buy 30% of the company as a joint venture, buying shares from existing investors. Now, the holdings stand as Audi (~18%), Bosch (~3.5%), BMW (~18%), Continental (~3%), Mercedes Benz (~18%), Intel (~9%), and Pioneer (~0.5%).