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Car Data

March 25, 2013
I don't know if I like this layout, but I like more data being available from my car usage.

I don’t know if I like this layout, but I like more data being available from my car usage.

I really like cars. In my lifetime I have owned more than my share of vehicles, and I always look forward to renting new makes and models when I travel, just to drive something different. As cars have evolved over the last few decades, there are some things about the changes I love, and some things I dislike. Personally I like the idea of a key fob that enables me to unlock the car and start the engine with a button without pulling the keys out of my pocket. However, as someone that’s lost my share of keys, I’d prefer a real key as a backup mechanism. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be an option many manufacturers want to provide. I dread having to replace a $200 “smart key” at some point in order to drive my car.

Cars have implemented a wide array of technology over time, some of which drivers are not even aware. These days cars gather an impressive amount of data, though probably not quite at the scale of the new Dreamliner. Or maybe they do. According to this article, cars can produce “hundreds of MB/s” in data acquisition. I would guess most of that data is thrown away, but some may not. I was quite impressed with the amount of data Tesla logged during the recent test drive controversy with one of their vehicles.

All this data, and the potential need to manage it, mine it, and perhaps make it available to other applications, is another sign of just how important our jobs as data professionals may be in the future. More and more of the things we encounter on a daily basis are creating data that we may turn into information for business decisions through creative uses of software. While some parts of our database systems may become easier to use, I suspect there are no shortage of new skills we will need to learn in the future to make sense of our data.

Mobile technology, whether with cell phones or transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles), will become more prevalent in our lives in the next decade. I suspect this will mean many more opportunities for data professionals. Especially as I’m sure there will be new regulations and requirements that will keep software developers and database professionals busy modifying applications as legislation tries to catch up with the creativity of technologists.

Steve Jones


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