A Better Trip with the Internet of Vehicles
Chet Van Wert | Oct 26, 2015
Title: Editor
Topic category: Connected living
IoT For Real
Florian (Motherboard.Vice.com)

Here is a practical and thought-provoking look at how the Internet of Things can minimize our time in traffic and still protect our privacy. The author (full article here) calls automobile traffic "an ad hoc realm of pure inefficiency, where otherwise intelligent humans drive several thousands of pounds of metal into waiting gridlock and the indifferent, unsafe roadway grids beyond—on a daily basis."

"The internet of vehicles (IoV) aims to fix all of that, plugging vehicles into a global grid where they can be coordinated into vastly more efficient, safe schemes of cooperative route-planning....

"The basic idea is that, 'all vehicles on the road publish their intended route and consider the published routes of others.' The system then crunches all of this data and offers drivers better ways to get around. Imagine Google Maps traffic highlighter tool but predictive rather than just reactive and with a much higher resolution (individual trips even).

"The problem, as defined by the KIT [Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology] researchers, can be summarized like this: 'In a completely anonymous system of peers, the promises of other participants cannot be fully trusted, which leads to a degraded system utility. On the other hand, user anonymity and unlinkability of user actions is highly desirable from a privacy standpoint.' With help from a cryptographic construct known as promise coins, these two perspectives might not be quite as conflicting as it might seem.

"Promise coins are related to the concept of electronic cash, in which digital bills are issued using "blind signatures" that prevent the bills from being linked to the user later on. In terms of our internet of vehicles, users would be issued a set of promise coins from some central authority. The users then use these coins to make anonymous "promises" about their intended route, in effect paying the central authority one coin for every route published. In exchange, the user gets a promise token, and once they've completed their route as published, they swap that token for the original coin....

"[U]sers that don't fulfill their route promises will eventually run out of coins, shutting them out of the system and its benefits. So: anonymity in this system is no longer a free pass to skip the rules. No more traffic updates, limited-access shortcuts, free tolls, etc. Just old-school anarchy.

"'Individual users participate in the system in an anonymous fashion, with no user actions or published routing information being linkable to them. Individual routes, which can potentially be linked back to user identities, are not easily reconstructible by the service operator.'"

Michael Byrne |Oct 26, 2015
Tags: Internet of Things, IoT, Internet of Vehicles, traffic management, connected cars, promise coins
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