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Who benefits from connected car data, asks Penny Searles, CEO, Smartdriverclub

The emergence of membership based connected car services are helping motorists benefit from their driving data

Who benefits from connected car data, asks Penny Searles, CEO, Smartdriverclub

Most people are pretty savvy about the fact that if they enable location services on their smartphone, their movements can be tracked and if they download an app, they have the choice to authorise or decline location data to be collected based on the perceived benefit of sharing that information.


But what happens when you drive a connected car? Right now there are well over a million cars on the road that have built in connectivity and that number is only going to grow as connectivity increasingly becomes standard in new vehicles. These cars are relaying data to motor manufacturers telling them where, when and how they are being driven. The problem is that many motorists are unaware of this and not benefitting from the data being collected. This could create a real stumbling block in consumer trust at a time when trust around data security and privacy has never been more important.


Connected cars are the first step on the road to the driverless cars. The data from the car is immensely valuable to motor manufacturers in helping them to understand the ways in which they can improve car design, enhance safety, reduce repair costs and measure the impact of technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking, etc. There’s no dispute over the collective goal to reduce road accidents but fundamentally the data belongs to the driver and while they may have given their consent for the data to be collected, there’s a high probability it was tucked away in the small print in the reams of paperwork that gets signed in a car purchase.


This is such a new and innovative area that there should be much greater transparency and clear communication concerning how the data is going to be used. The majority of drivers may still be happy to say yes, especially if they are offered something in return, but the key point is that they should have the choice, and know they have the choice so they can make an informed decision.


Connectivity can enable some really smart -- even life-saving -- services. Through connectivity the car has the ability to communicate with other vehicles and organisations. It could instantly report a collision, its severity and exact location, saving precious time for the ambulance team in a life-threatening situation. It could talk to its driver to let them know as soon as a fault occurs and where the nearest garage is. If a connected car is stolen, the exact location can be tracked so that the police know where to find it. It figures then, if a driver is sharing their data, they should get some or all of these services in return. That’s just not happening right now.

In today’s world, we want more personalised services and expect to sacrifice certain elements of privacy for more targeted offerings.


When we accept ‘location services’ on our smartphones, allowing the mobile provider to record data on how and where we use our phones, we know the benefits we will receive in return -- personalised and local recommendations, tailored to what we are interested in and exactly where we are interested in seeing them. These same principles should apply when a manufacturer records driving data.


Fortunately technology has evolved to a point now where you don’t have to have a new car to get connected. The emergence of membership based connected car services are helping motorists benefit from their driving data. A simple plug-in device paired with a smartphone app gives motorists access to a range of safety and money saving services with full visibility over how their data will be used to facilitate these services. The data belongs to the customer, they decide how it is used and with whom it is shared. Motor manufacturers need to take on the same level of openness.



Penny Searles has over 20 years’ experience in financial services and has worked in the mortgage and insurance industry in the UK and Europe. She has held key positions with both UK banks and building societies, including HSBC and Lambeth, and in board positions supporting the sales, operational and compliance areas on the board of TML, part of the Kensington Group as COO. Penny has a wealth of knowledge in direct to consumer sales and marketing, in addition to having a strong operational background.

She joined Wunelli, the telematics solutions enabler for the insurance sector, in 2008 and became MD in 2010, helping the company grow to become a leading innovator in the telematics arena working with 90 per cent of UK insurers. Penny left the business in 2015, having overseen the acquisition by LexisNexisRisk Solutions.

Penny launched Smartdriverclub in April 2016, the UK’s first connected car service for used cars, offering motorists greater protection both on the road and when managing the running costs of their vehicles.



If you enjoyed this, you may wish to view the following:



What difference does data make on our roads, asks Wayne Slant, marketing director, Clearview Intelligence

It’s quite simple really. Without data, our roads would grind to a halt. Period.


Assessing risk in the age of driverless cars, by Rutger Van der Wall, VP International Business Development for LexisNexis Risk Solutions

The challenge for insurers when it comes to semi and fully autonomous cars is that they have no historical data to refer to for these types of risks

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