Sunday, June 7, 2015

S 1499 Introduced – Auto-Infrastructure Communications

Last week Sen Peters (D,MI) introduced S 1499, the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 6 2015. The bill would allow funds under three different highway grant programs to be used to install ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure communication equipment’.

The bill starts off by adding a new definition to 23 USC 101; the definition of the term ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure communication equipment’. It would be defined as “equipment that provides a wireless exchange of critical safety and operational data between highway infrastructure and vehicles, intended primarily to avoid or mitigate vehicle collisions and enable a wide range of other safety, mobility, and environmental benefits" {new §101(a)(35)}.

It then goes on to authorize spending for the installation of vehicle-to-infrastructure communication equipment as an authorized use for three separate highway grant programs:

∙ National Highway Performance Program, 23 USC 119 {new §119(d)(2)(Q)};

∙ Surface Transportation Program, 23 USC 133(b) {new §133(b)(27)}; and
∙ Highway Safety Improvement Program, 23 USC 148 {new §148(a)(4)(B)(xxv)}

No new money is added to any of the three grant programs.

Moving Forward

While Peters has bipartisan support for this bill {Sen. Blunt (R,MO)} neither is on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that has been assigned the bill. So it is unlikely that they will get consideration in that Committee. If the bill were considered, or made it to the floor of the Senate it would almost certainly be approved.

The most likely way of moving this bill forward will be to add it as an amendment to the Surface Transportation Authorization Bill that is kind of scheduled to be considered before the summer recess. Both Blunt and Peters are on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that deals with that bill.

Another possible avenue would be an amendment to the THUD spending bill that is being drafted in the Appropriations Committee. Blunt is on the THUD Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.


While I understand that this is essentially an authorization bill, I am still concerned that there is no mention of communications security in the bill. This is because there has been little or no discussion in Congress about security the communications between these two sets of automotive control systems; those in the cars themselves and those in the supporting infrastructure.

This is the insecurity of the internet of things (IOT) writ large. Fixed and relatively isolated roadside communications devices that are designed to interact with automotive control systems will be the most physically vulnerable portion of that communication system. The ability to wreak havoc with semi-controlled traffic on the most congested highways is the ability interfere with emergency response personnel and to disrupt commerce. Both of those would be obvious targets for any terrorist wanting to attack our cities.

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