dots. – a technology company and service provider with 20 years’ experience – recently joined the ERTICO Partnership. dots. provides AI-driven road digital infrastructure platform. ERTICO’s Sophie Henkel met Aigars Jaundālders of R&D, Development and Services and Aleksandrs Ahero, consultant from dots., to learn more about the story behind the name and discuss why they believe that designing systems for failure would overcome many challenges in cybersecurity.
What’s the story behind your company’s name?
In the physical environment it’s all about geometry – a simple dot connects everything. In our company we do exactly this: we lead our customers to individual solutions in the simplest way possible. We connect the dots. Translating this to the mobility sector- which consists of many moving parts – our goal is to simplify and to create integrated solutions that work together.
What’s your motivation to join the ERTICO Partnership?
We had several very important motivations. Our focus is clearly on solutions and cloud technology, leveraging data and machine-learning to extract data to contribute to traffic management with the latest technologies. ERTICO had no members from the Baltic region and this gave us a strong incentive to join and act as a representative for our region. The ERTICO Partnership is a great community for meeting and exchanging with experts from the smart mobility field. To be able to achieve Vision Zero, which is one of our most important goals, we need to create strong partnerships. We hope that ERTICO will help dots. to create our own new vision not only in relation to projects, but also to find our place in the ITS ecosystem. Cooperation with public authorities is vital as they communicate their short and long term challenges and reveals the technological solutions that are required. We appreciate the opportunity to have scalable solutions in real life living labs across Europe.
In your view, what are the challenges related to cybersecurity and IT infrastructure for roads and how can these be overcome?
There a lot of challenges from a technical point of view. It is not just cybersecurity per se, but it is the way we architect systems. One of the main challenges we see is that historically transportation regulation is coming from government. Often, assumptions are made about safe and secure environments when we architect systems, for example with sensors. The general belief is that they will not misbehave or be hacked. Whilst in a lab environment or on limited roll-out this is acceptable because we still have control. Yet broader IT experience says that these assumptions fall apart once we reach the full-scale rollout of technologies. We must live with and accept the fact that security by secrecy is not going to work in real life and we must assume that any sensor, any smart traffic light, any weather station, anything really on the road anything outside our physical sight and control will misbehave. This is why we have to design systems that have some tolerance and fall-back that do not compromise safety. Our idea, and it might be provocative to some, would be to embrace openness, but design systems for failure. Lack of secure environments shouldn’t be the reason not to do things. What we should talk much more about is how to design systems to move forward without including these unsafe assumptions. This is the way forward in our view.
Latvia has recently seen an emergency of new companies in the digitalisation sector related to transport. Could you tell us about the importance of strengthening innovation in the region? We are a medium sized company with history and experience in broader ICT sector. All around us in Latvia, innovative companies are developing and the government is taking a very proactive role. The government of Latvia has introduced a programme which promotes living labs and testbeds. The concept behind this is that the government acts as an incubator. It has selected certain industries, including traffic industry and smart cities, in which new solutions are systematically being incubated. We believe that this data driven initiative by the government is why many more companies are popping up. Collaboration between administration, industry and academia is really important.
What is your personal favourite mode of transport?
(Aleksandrs) I find cycling and using the train an enjoyable experience. The infrastructure in Latvia is developing in a way that encourages citizens to switch to various types of traffic modes, other than the car, e.g. bike and e-scooter.
(Aigars) It might come as a surprise but my favourite mode of transport is walking. It is the only natural mode of transportation, so I enjoy walking whenever I can.
Interview and article by Sophie Henkel, ERTICO – ITS Europe
Portrait photos © dots.