Cisco wants to network and IP-enable vehicles, which could be a boon for emergency response crews, among others.
True, intercommunication between these computers is not a new thing. Dedicated short-range communications channels have been in place for over a decade in the United States, Europe and Japan. Today they are mainly used for collecting tolls in Europe and Japan, and none of the three systems is compatible with the other two.
Since its founding, the networking giant Cisco has been one of the major developers of ways to network both government and civilian computers together. But there is one type of computer that even Cisco has neglected, even though this type has been around for over 40 years and whose use continues to grow. I’m talking about the on-board computer in your vehicle.
What Cisco is proposing to do is make your car more like a smart phone -- something that switches seamlessly between wireless networks and 4G. This could allow for firmware updates from anywhere, not to mention uninterrupted data streaming for passengers.
The Cisco Connected Vehicle initiative would network the systems already in a car and connect them to the Internet. Aside from letting the kids browse the Web in the backseat while Dad gets GPS-enabled driving directions, Cisco also is quick to point out the benefits such networking could have for first responders and other emergency crews.
A vehicle arriving first at the scene of an accident, for example, could send video to a control center, giving dispatchers a better idea of what other crews are needed at the scene, the company says. Ambulances could connect with hospitals to arrange care for an incoming patient, and police could send images from a crime scene to more quickly identify suspects. And using wireless IP connections could help them all avoid the communication problems that often occur with radio systems that aren’t interoperable.
Also, since every system in the car would be connected more wirelessly, the folks at Cisco estimate they could eliminate 70 to 80 pounds of cables from the average car. And with gas prices what they are, every little thing to improve mileage is good.
In addition to emergency services, this kind of technology also could have other uses in government, such as for fleet management or for agencies that have a lot of employees in the field. And the military, which is always looking for ways to keep soldiers and commanders connected in the field, could make use of it, too.
Cisco says it has been in contact in every car manufacturer in the world about its connected cars, so there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing them on the roads pretty soon.