- Technology company BlackBerry Limited will launch a Security Credential Management System (SCMS) aimed at helping autonomous vehicles (AVs) safely communicate with infrastructure like stoplights. The system will be based on BlackBerry’s Certicom technology and will be available with no service fees to automakers and public sector officials working on smart cities pilots.
- The first test of the service will be in Ottawa, Canada, using a secure 16-kilometer test track with built-in infrastructure organized by Invest Ottawa.
- "The future of autonomous vehicles cannot be realized until intelligent transportation systems are put in place," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement. "By removing barriers such as security, privacy, and cost, we believe our SCMS service will help accelerate the many smart city and connected vehicle pilot programs taking place around the world.”
The introduction of the secure system marks BlackBerry’s play to enter the internet of things (IoT) and mobility economy, a few years on from security breaches that damaged its smartphone business. The company’s QNX operating system is already has significant sway in the auto industry (according to BlackBerry, the system is installed in 120 million cars), and the introduction of a connected infrastructure management system would give it another footprint as cities and states build out smart infrastructure.
The Canadian Press reports that Chen, speaking at a conference in Toronto, didn’t say BlackBerry was trying to compete with Google and parent company Alphabet, whose subsidiary Sidewalk Labs is building out a smart city development in Toronto. Chen said only "we are doing things they would rather not do for free," adding, "we want to let people control their own privacy, and the level and degree, so that when you decide you want to share … it is your explicit consent to share." Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside development has been marred by criticism about its lack of data protection for residents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says SCMS systems are necessary for smart cities to ensure that cars, traffic management centers and infrastructure can trust data they are receiving. By using Public Key Infrastructure relying on advanced encryption and certificate management, the systems can communicate essential information without betraying personal or equipment-identifying information, to maintain the privacy of drivers.