Neutral Server: Securely Opening the Doors to Automotive Data




By Lisa Joy Rosner, CMO, Otonomo

Just over two years ago, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) announced its neutral server initiative. This joint effort by multiple European vehicle manufacturers makes automotive data available to interested third-party Service Providers in a safe and secure manner, without requiring those third parties to sign a contract with a manufacturer. This initiative received tremendous support from the EU as well as numerous OEMs and other key players in the automotive industry: insurance companies, energy providers, and automotive repair companies. Today, we’re seeing the first real-world neutral server deployments, such as the partnership between Daimler AG and Otonomo, announced in early January.

Neutral Servers offer:

  • Consumer Choice: By breaking down barriers to data accessibility, Neutral Servers will make more services available to drivers and passengers.
  • More Competition: Competing Service Providers will have access to a defined automotive dataset from which they can innovate and differentiate.
  • Fair Play: Everyone can access and use the data with the same terms and conditions, increasing the speed at which drivers adopt new data services.

The Neutral Server concept represents a big step for the automotive data ecosystem, and Otonomo is excited to be supporting this effort through the Neutral Server environment that is part of our automotive data services platform.

Today, insurance providers are looking to Neutral Server to simplify access to mileage for usage-based insurance. A number of smart charging services are emerging to serve the growing population of electric vehicles (EVs). Gas and energy companies are looking to create seamless, personalized fueling services. Those services are just the start.

Here are the key Neutral Server requirements that our solution addresses.

Drivers’ Safety Demands Secure, Off-Board Data Access

Automotive data can provide value to a huge number of mobility use cases, but driver safety must come first. Vehicle manufacturers cannot broadly provide direct access to vehicle functions because that access could put drivers at risk from hacker attacks and could cause critical vehicle capabilities to malfunction due to overloaded computing capacities within the vehicle.

Drivers and Regulators Expect Clear Consent Management

Privacy and data protection are central tenets of the Neutral Server. A Neutral Server must ensure that personal automotive data is only shared with third-party Service Providers that have driver consent. In other words, consent is on a per-service basis. As such, the Neutral Server keeps vehicle manufacturers and Service Providers in full compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR.

Standardized Interoperability Provides Faster, Easier Access to Valuable Data

With standard, web-service based access to a Neutral Server, Service Providers can develop a single application interface that brings in automotive data from all vehicle makes and models, even if that data is generated in disparate formats. They can bring innovative services to life much faster because they don’t have to enter into separate contract negotiations with each OEM.

Meets the Needs of OEMs for Liability and Intellectual Property Protection

Within the Neutral Server model, vehicle manufacturers are able to manage their obligations to product liability laws by maintaining secure end-to-end communication with the off-board cloud. Manufacturers can also protect intellectual property by controlling the datasets that are accessible to Service Providers.

Learn More About the Otonomo Neutral Server

We invite OEMs to learn more about how to implement Neutral Server, and we’re ready to explore the access to automotive data in Europe with Service Providers.  Reach out to us! You can visit this page to learn more about Mercedes-Benz data that’s available today or reach out to us at neutral@otonomo.io.

You can also read the ACEA’s position paper for more background and technical details.