BlackBerry Launches Security Credential Management System Designed for Smart Cities

BlackBerry is launching its Security Credential Management System (SCMS) service, which is designed to help in the development of urban transportation systems and smart cities.

The mobile communications and security specialist company is offering the service without service fees to automakers and public offices involved in smart city and connected vehicle pilots.

The SCMS platform is built to IEEE 1609.2 and CAMP specifications and offers trusted security credentials to vehicle OEMs, Tier 1s, road operators and specialty service vehicles from secure BlackBerry infrastructure.

“Smart cities and the connected-car ecosystem will be dependent upon sensors and control points that can automate the traffic flow via things like traffic signals, smart lanes and other pieces of smart infrastructure,” Jim Alfred, the head of BlackBerry’s Certicom product group, wrote in an email to TU-Automotive.

Alfred explained if any of those are not secure, then bad actors can manipulate them and cause havoc within the entire system.

“In short, if you’re not securing these things then you’re exposing yourself to a possible attack by disrupting communications or injecting false data into the system,” he added.

The SCMS service is based on BlackBerry’s Certicom technology and offers a secure hosted Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which can manage certificates on behalf of an organization or the whole ecosystem.

The service is designed to scale in order to support national and transnational deployments, as well as offering OEMs and public officials a turnkey cloud-based service for vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) certificate issuance and lifecycle management.

BlackBerry noted it can also support hybrid SCMS solutions optimized for high-volume vehicle production, and the service has been tested for interoperability in multiple OmniAir Consortium PlugFests held earlier in the year.

“This is why our SCMS service is so important — it will enable things like vehicles and infrastructure (such as traffic signals) to exchange information in a trustworthy and private manner using digital certificates,” Alfred noted. “The communications mechanisms within much of these emerging technologies are designed to be aware of potential congestion issues so as not to stop or slow down the flow of data.”

He explained many of these mechanisms are built using algorithms that can either reduce power or manage the application or network layer access to ensure that all devices will continue to work even in a congested environment.

“Beyond that, fast, reliable, always-present connectivity will be the backbone of intelligent transportation infrastructure and the connected-car ecosystem,” Alfred said.

The first project using the SCMS service will be in partnership with Invest Ottawa, which will leverage it within a secure 16km test track for autonomous vehicles that resembles a miniature city, complete with pavement markings, traffic lights, stop signs, and pedestrian crosswalks.

The idea is that by trialing these technologies in a controlled test area, researchers will then be able to determine what the benefits are or what areas need further investigation before being confident enough to deploy them in a real-world environment.

“Test tracks like the one in Ottawa will be critical to testing new communications technologies but more importantly they’ll also be extremely valuable as proving grounds to evaluate the entire end-to-end system of which individual technologies will play a part,” Alfred said.

He also noted differing standards, political priorities, budgets and a lack of incentives for manufacturers to deploy the technology are just a few of the things that can thwart a new technology from gaining traction.

“There isn’t a clear cut answer for why certain technologies aren’t more widely deployed to fight traffic and improve mobility,” Alfred said.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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