Insurethebox is a UK insurance company that sells auto insurance by the mile. The key to their business is they install a small tracking computer in each customer's car that measure how far they drive and how they drive.
According to their website, the tracking computer records and reports:
• The time of day or night you drive
• The speed you drive at on different sorts of road
• How smoothly you drive
• If you take breaks on long journeys
• Your motorway miles
• Your total mileage
• The total number of journeys you make
• Details of any accidents.
Using this data they vary the drivers insurance rates based on their actual driving behavior. They also provide incentive bonuses, in the form of free miles, to safe drivers.
This is a fascinating use of big data that raises all sorts of privacy issues.
For example, the insurance company knows where your car is at all times. This data could be very interesting to a variety of folks like law enforcement, government agencies, your employer, your spouse/significant other, etc. And it's likely (definitely in the case of law enforcement and government agencies) these folks and others could - under certain circumstances - gain access.
So customers, at least in this case, are obviously willing to give up a lot of personal information in exchange for lower insurance rates.
We'll be exploring this issue and big data in general more in the coming weeks.