BMW and IBM have announced a partnership to work together on a platform for the connected car. BMW’s CarData platform was created to run on the IBM Bluemix cloud, giving the new platform access to IBM Watson IoT capabilities.

The BMW CarData platform helps drivers access third-party providers of diagnostic and repair services or vehicle insurance. CarData collects car telemetrics for the owner and, with permission, shares that data with third-party service providers such as repair shops and insurance companies.

The CarData platform collects data from the vehicles registered through the BMW ConnectedDrive app. That data is stored in IBM servers and, if the owner allows it, shared with third-party service providers.

The companies stress that all data collected is secure, and shared only with the car owner unless express permission is granted to share limited data with a specific service provider. As stated in the IBM press release, “Customers will have to actively agree to share their encrypted telematics data when they want to use a specific service from a service provider.”

Consent is requested separately for every app and service, to protect user privacy.

Benefits of the CarData platform could include savings on insurance premiums, or faster diagnosis and repair of vehicles as a result of transparent information sharing between the vehicle itself and service providers.

Although it is currently available only in Germany, an upcoming global rollout is expected to provide the CarData service for up to 8.5 million vehicle owners worldwide. IBM will also act as a neutral server, able to collect data from BMW vehicles but also from those produced by other manufacturers. This way, Bluemix will help manufacturers and service providers to achieve a transparent, secure vehicle data platform for the entire transportation industry.

Dirk Wollschlaeger, GM for IBM Global Automotive, Aerospace and Defense said that by providing a neutral server, IBM “fosters innovation by establishing a single point of contact for multiple parties to access vehicle data from various manufacturers, thereby reducing integration cost whilst ensuring fair competition.”

The CarData platform is part of the collaboration between BMW and IBM that was announced in December 2016, to explore the role of Watson cognitive computing in improving the driving experience for car owners. To promote the partnership, BMW placed researchers in the IBM Watson global headquarters in Munich, Germany.