WHO-IS-CONNECTED-TO-MY-CAR

Who Is Connected To My Car?

Imagine. The driverless and connected car. The Jetsons meets Blade Runner, with wheels– for now!

The benefits are mind-boggling – but so too are the challenges affecting safety, privacy, regulation, law enforcement, and more.

Yet, to the general community, car makers don’t appear as alert and active as they could be in confronting these issues. Do they understand the value of engaging with major stakeholders long before the technologies swamp markets with unexpected vulnerabilities and are hit heavily by retrospective regulation?

So, keep imagining. You enter your “car”, without even a fob, and merely utter your destination. The Occupant ID and GPS already know you. The electric powertrain whirrs. You’re off, as you swivel on a monocoque-encased seat to face …. your workstation, where once was a steering wheel and dashboard.

Is this automotive nirvana for real?

Would you be in your seat, “unnecessarily” scanning the road; fretting about whether those twitchy 50 on-board modules are blinded by the sun and will plough you into a truck? Or would you be totally disengaged? What will be your legal obligation in terms of being “in control”? We’ve seen the first fatality already with a driverless Tesla.

But while the current question may be whether program engineers can foresee every permutation of personal safety risk, this is far from the only issue. In fact, the connected car will no longer be just your car. It is your life, your possessions, your history, your business, your misdemeanors, your purchases, your buying, travel and driving habits and all that can be communicated by networks.

What happens when you being driven along and, abruptly, everything powers down? As the vehicle slides itself safely into a roadside bay, a message instructs: “Your vehicle authority is suspended.”

It seems your bank has won a court order to take over your vehicle … it’s about a disputed payment, or a business debt, or an identity anomaly, or … Whatever. But what is clear is you are not in control. The cloud, and everyone connected to it, can potentially and remotely take control.

What else can happen? May creditors pinpoint your location to serve you? Can mobile salespeople intercept you in car parks? Will alienated spouses find you? Are business secrets accessible via your mobile platform? You, and your data, are an open “book”. Legal use of data may come with the purchase or lease of your vehicle, and on-selling deals done without you; like online software. Do we really understand what will be done with our data?

Of course all of this may be solved with a combination of regulation, legislation and technology.

But is the automotive industry active enough in shaping the outcome before it is shaped for it?

There is a huge task ahead in co-ordinating stakeholder relations, community consultation and government relations to draw the parameters of acceptability for communities and customers.

Without this, the legislation and regulation will come anyway – especially after some data breach, like the census scenario. At that point everything will happen to the car industry, not with it.

We see the opportunity to be active now and to allow customers and communities to shape the local evolution of the connected car … rather than try to do this after a crisis. The question is: will the car industry be caught asleep at the wheel?

Three-epic-fails-in-maintaining-trust-

Three Epic Fails In Maintaining Trust

What do statisticians, one of the world’s largest car companies and the NSW Police have in common?

They all, in varying ways, have managed to create for themselves the most difficult environment for ongoing stakeholder engagement. One of little to no trust.

The 2016 Census

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is so comprehensive a failure that a War & Peace sized tome could be required to detail just how many mistakes were piled upon mistakes. However, at the core of the debacle was the arrogant belief that ‘of course everyone trusts us’ and ‘our systems are inviolate.’ Wrong on both counts. Trying to sneak a change of privacy rules on the public with a press release and expecting no pushback is just naive. In an environment of increased awareness of online data privacy it really is adhering to Jeremy Clarkson’s famously sarcastic protestation of “what could possibly go wrong?”

Then to try justifying the privacy rule change by claiming the people provide more information on social media platforms forgets the basic difference that, if they do so, people share that information by choice, not by stealthily enacted bureaucratic fiat.

The arrogance that led to the Census site crash and the confusion of message after the almost inevitable calamity occurred (that some may say they almost goaded hackers into delivering) was the sort of slow-motion train wreck of failed communication that was as predictable as it was cringe-worthy. 

VW and Motoring Media

Speaking of arrogance: Volkswagen. The diesel emissions cheating scandal has been running for over 12 months. Still VW seems either unwilling or incapable of finding a way to engage sensibly with its most important stakeholders in any effort to rebuild its shattered reputation.

The latest stroke of PR genius was an official statement from VW Australia refusing to participate in the now well established Australia’s Best Cars awards run by the journalists of the combined state-based Auto Clubs, under the AAA umbrella. A nation-wide group of clubs that represent over 7 million Australian members. Really?

Here is what they said under the name of their local MD, (I’m not making this up).

“The AAA’s public statements inspire little confidence in its grasp of fundamental issues,” Mr Bartsch said. “Moreover, the AAA has become hostile not only to our brands, but to the motor vehicle industry that employs tens of thousands of Australians.”

It is bizarre that this petulant and arrogant tit-for-tat is seen by VW as a valid corporate response to the AAA’ disqualification of VW group vehicles form the 2015 awards, just as the diesel-gate scandal was at its high-point.

Never mind that if only 10% of the AAA members read resulting negative commentary in the Club’s various monthly journals that is another 700,000 consumers who have ‘opinion leaders’ telling them VW is a poor corporate citizen.

NSW Police and the Lindt Siege Inquest

If there is one organization that relies on public trust almost more than any other, it is the Police. We see what happens when that trust is shattered. The USA appears trapped in an endless cycle of mutual distrust and aggression between their Police forces and the black population.

The NSW Police, for some reason, appear to expect, if not demand, public trust without wishing to be too publically accountable. They spent a good part of 2015 engaged in ugly internal power struggles, played out very publicly in the Parliamentary Enquiry into Internal Affairs bugging of, now senior, police back in the late 1990s.

Now they top that mess with uncoordinated and frankly concerning statements about the chain of command (or lack of) in relation to the Lind Siege and the resulting loss of two civilian lives.

The public could be forgiven for asking ‘who is running this s*#t-show’?

Once again there has been no obvious concern for how the sight of senior leadership ducking for cover will play with their key stakeholders and what long-term reputational damage is being done. Perhaps that is a side effect of lengthy tenure and comfortable retirement provisions?

 


All three examples have not only damaged the reputation of the organisations involved but also created a stakeholder trust deficit that will be very hard to correct.

The first step in regaining any degree of trust is an understanding that there must be an acknowledgment of fault, together with a recognition that a great deal of hard work will need to done to earn that trust back. So far all three show no real sign of that basic understanding.

For now, at least, they serve the purpose of offering clear examples of how not to manage stakeholder relations. However, the really concerning trend is that, even with all that we now know about effective stakeholder management, such monumental mistakes just keep happening.

Issue-of-Trust

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Engagement

2  The Issue Of Trust

A few years ago I came close to losing faith in the discipline of communications. Problems arose that our hitherto powerful comms methods seemed unable to address. How come? We had the messages, we had the reach and the frequency.

Unfortunately we had lost the trust.

Working in government comms for over 20 years it’s easy to forget about trust. Generally, people trust government departments and agencies (politicians still have a problem, of course).

Even in these cynical times, the vast majority of Australians don’t believe the conspiracy theories about fluoridating water or monitoring people’s data. Even the biggest conspiracy theory of all regarding climate change seems in the process of abandonment by all but the most committed deniers.

Nonetheless, government can lose the trust of the community when it’s seen to be implementing a controversial policy, or looks confused, disorganized or lazy. In my own Road to Damascus experience, government was seen to be wrong-headed, high handed and invasive. After 12 months of this there was very little trust left.

What I learned from this situation is that sometimes you have to acknowledge that your comms isn’t going to be enough, stop trying to persuade people and start engaging with them.

Since then I’ve been trained in engagement techniques, which I’ve used in a variety of situations. I now see comms and engagement related, and complementary in many ways, but as coming from very different places.

Communications – at least as I was taught it 20 years or so ago – works from the premise that the communicator acts on a target audience. The basis of engagement, on the other hand, is about working with the stakeholders.

Once I started thinking along these lines, it really struck me that communications was somewhat warlike – think of the language – ‘target audiences’, ‘campaigns’, ‘strategy’, ‘penetration’, ‘hits’. We’re not such a violent lot really, but I think communications is in the business of seeking power over people – their knowledge, their attitudes, their choices – by firing off our messages at them. Certainly those of us in government are doing this for the greater good.

On the other hand, with engagement we start from the position that we don’t have a monopoly of truth or moral authority. We have stuff to bring, you have stuff to bring; let’s both bring our stuff and see what we can achieve.

History – even fairly recent – suggests that government could once get its way because it was ‘the expert’, it had the power, and it was perceived by the community to have a mandate – and the community by and large felt it had to accept what it did.

That era is over, and governments now have to accept that they too need social license to operate.

Communications is still powerful and hopefully, for government, a powerful force for good, but it only works when the trust is there. When trust is lost, comms loses its mojo and becomes just words. And that’s where engagement comes in.

 

SOCIAL-MEDIA-PUSHING-FOR-CRISIS-MANAGEMENT-CHANGE

Social Media Pushing For Crisis Management Change

Within one minute of a Boeing 777 crash-landing at San Francisco International Airport in 2013, it was on Twitter with a photo from an eye-witness observer. Within 30 minutes the number had risen to more than 44,000 tweets with photos and videos taken by survivors.

The wave of social media coverage illustrated three phenomena which have vastly complicated the challenge facing communication professionals in the aftermath of an incident.

Firstly, the sheer number of people actively using social media platforms each month is now passed the two billion mark; potential “citizen journalists” or 28% of the world’s population.

The second is mobility: more than half of all internet access globally is via mobile devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and notebook computers.

Thirdly, the impetus to interact more with communities (stakeholders) through social media directly derives from dissatisfaction with traditional media.

% of online adults who use the following social media websites, by year

 

More than half the planet now owns a mobile phone, with unique users now exceeding 3.6 billion. Globally active mobile subscriptions now exceed 7.1 billion, suggesting that the average phone owner maintains almost 2 active subscriptions.

If an incident occurs in a populated area, or at a highly visible location, eyewitnesses or participants can now capture and share images of the event, upload videos or post comments via their mobile devices before any organisation, or government department concerned may even be fully aware of what has happened.

Once the story breaks on social media, the opportunity to provide factual information and influence the developing narrative is reduced to minutes.

However, social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, provide organisations with an equal opportunity to reach the news media and other audiences quickly and to provide constantly updated information in an emergency.

Effectively harnessing the power of social media should be a top priority for all organisations and, therefore be an integral part of any organisation’s plans to respond to an accident or major incident. It goes without saying, that the time to prepare for an accident or serious incident is before it occurs, and these preparations should be exercised on a routine basis.

RMK+Associates has the background, experience and front-line history to help governments and organisations with their crisis management plans and responses to ensure they are fully prepared for, and capable of responding to any incident.