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?

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.


The digital transformation of stakeholder engagement

Communication is transitioning to a ‘new era’ in service delivery efficiency and effectiveness.

It is a ‘customer-centric’ service delivery; i.e. ‘providing the best possible customer experience (satisfaction) utilising the most efficient delivery model’. This means not only new technologies, but also a new approach to personal communication.

Modern Innovative government is committed to addressing this because of the rising expectations of citizens, increasing fiscal pressures and delivering technologies that enable these new ways of information management and communication.

This trend is not only what is expected of government. Consumers are also pushing for it from the private sector.

The approach to meeting this change requires planned communication practices and creative approaches to ‘connect with’ and ‘serve’ citizens.

Specifically, citizens are seeking access to information that is delivered in the simplest, most user-friendly and efficient way. For many, this means the options to receive information that is easily accessible, accurate, timely and digital or personal in nature, depending on their individual circumstances.

This ‘push’ also coincides with the evolving nature of communication, especially the rapid adoption of internet enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Unfortunately, many government departments and companies do not have the digital or stakeholder engagement expertise to champion change across their operations to realise the benefits of digital stakeholder communication.

RMKA is at the forefront of these changes in communication and service delivery trends.

We bring this expertise and ‘communication model’ to governments, business and the philanthropic sectors to ‘create change’ to deliver ambitious programs to engage citizens, customers and other stakeholders and cement their positions as leaders in their areas of expertise and operation.

Fast and social, disastrous consequences

The arrival of social media has been both transformative and disruptive. Certainly for anyone under the age of 40 it is likely to be a major part of their daily lives.

Any medium seen by billions of eyes will quickly attract the attention of business communicators, and rightly so. However, as with any communication channel, the use of social media needs to be carefully thought through, for both message and for suitability.

Of critical importance is the prime differentiator of social media; it is communal and largely uncontrolled. Businesses engaging in social media are undertaking the modern equivalent of standing on a soap box in a busy town square and shouting one’s views, or offerings to invite instant crowd feedback.

To coin a phrase, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’

The answer is, of course, quite a lot. Quickly.

Recently another industry disrupter, ride sharing platform Uber, arrived in Melbourne and started making life quite difficult for the local taxi industry. Uber does not need highly prized taxi licences, despatch, depot or taxi rank infrastructure. All that is needed is someone who wants to make a few dollars out of driving folks around in their car and an app on a mobile phone. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the Victorian Taxi Directorate would want to stop Uber.

In addition to the legal challenges it launched, the VTD thought it would be a good idea to launch a social media campaign to remind people what a ‘fantastic’ service they offered. So their agency launched a Facebook page with a competition asking customers to share their happy taxi customer stories. The supposed incentive being that they could win a year’s free taxi rides.

If you don’t already know what happened next there is a fair chance you will have guessed.

The campaign was wildly successful in providing a public forum for anyone with a gripe about taxi services to vent their displeasure. From smelly cabs and sweaty, clueless drivers, to aggressive and sexist behaviour all the way to actual sexual assaults, the site was swamped with unhappy customers who basically told the taxi industry where to stick their free year of rides.


The whole thing went viral in the worst possible way and was then picked up by all the traditional media, heaping more criticism on the industry and the industry body.

The campaign was scrapped, the agency fired and the Victorian Taxi Directorate had to make the humiliating admission that they would focus on better service delivery rather than social media gimmicks.

The lesson? Don’t rush into the latest communication medium without fully understanding how it works and what the possible outcomes could be. Strategic communication planning will help avoid such disasters, but close consideration of the chosen tactical communication tools is also required if the potential for an own-goal is to be eliminated.

The first principle of thinking things through is not a bad starting point in any communication activity.