Steve Pimblett is the chief information and data officer at wejo, a company with the ambition to help improve the experience of using the road. This includes reducing the number of road deaths, improving air quality and making it easier for drivers to find parking spaces.
It is a lofty ambition but Pimblett thinks this can be achieved with the help of its automotive data exchange platform technology or ADEPT. ADEPT is a cloud-based platform that sits between the global automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or car manufacturers and other organisations that can make use of the data such as routing, mapping and planning companies, local authorities or insurers.
“You might be an insurer looking to understand driving patterns of drivers."
He said: “You might be an insurer looking to understand driving patterns of drivers. You might be a smart city planner looking to better invest in roads to aid traffic flow so we act as the enabler and the data ecosystem for that facility.”
The data that is put into ADEPT comes straight from the vehicles’ built-in sensors and wejo can also take data from applications like Waze and HERE Technologies maps.
The automotive manufacturers are incentivised to reduce the emissions their vehicles generate and also to improve the safety of their cars when they are involved in crashes. Pimblett said this is why every manufacturer has to install sim cards in every car - so when an airbag goes off, the car alerts, emergency services.
It is important to know who owns the data. Pimblett said that the driver owns the consent of the data, the automotive manufacturers own the storage of the data and wejo is acting as the controller of the process on behalf of the manufacturers.
"There was no uniformity in the sensors, in transmission or the data.”
Unfortunately, there is little uniformity of this driving data as Pimblett said there is definitely no standard across vehicle manufacturers and even sometimes across the different brands of the same manufacturer. “Sensors might be different, connectivity might be different, network operators might be different so there’s no uniformity in the sensors, in transmission or the data,” he said.
This left wejo with the challenge of creating a connected car data standard, smoothing out the complexity of the data so that multiple OEMs can connect to one platform. It is estimated that by the end of the year there will be 17 million cars on the platform, the sensors from which are sending almost one million data points per second. This scales up to half a trillion data points monthly. wejo had another challenge of quality with “checking the data, verify it, standardise it, enrich it and run algorithms and modelling on top of it. It is an enormous challenge for us.”
He said that by using Databricks Unified Analytics Platform, wejo has highly-tuned analytical and data science tool that can be used on a large volume of data as well as a space for collaboration between those who work in wejo’s different job roles, different departments and different regions.
David Wyatt, VP and general manager of Databricks EMEA said that the platform, which is built on Spark, can bring data scientists, data engineers and dev ops together. He also said that Databricks optimises the code line so data models can be run in the platform which requires fewer people and less time than doing it manually.
Wyatt also spoke of the benefit of the Delta Lake, an open source storage layer that runs on top of an organisation’s data lake. He said it makes the data a lot easier to access and query and added that his technology has data libraries that allows wejo data scientists to stop working on a data model at one point in time and pick it up at a later stage. Furthermore, Databricks has its own machine learning engine.
The result is that for Pimblett the time to market is reduced by orders of magnitude while the productivity of his team has increased exponentially. He said: “It was taking something like eight days for us to get from initial analysis and we literally reduced it down to eight minutes. I’ve got 10 data scientists their output has more than quadrupled on the back of Databricks.”
“We generally are the only ones that have license to the connected car data."
There are now over 140 billion driving miles held on wejo’s ADEPT, a data source so comprehensive that other automotive mapping technology companies will approach wejo for a better and richer source of data. Pimblett said: “We generally are the only ones that have license to the connected car data at the moment, so we own the distribution on behalf of the OEM.” With this data, wejo can uncover and map new roads that are revealed by new driver routes and support a host of innovations to legacy industries.
He said: “Whether you are a traffic company looking to do better mapping, whether you are an insurer looking to implement a pay-as-you-drive model. It’s a whole new category that we’re building, we call it the data ecosystem.”