MetroMile Installation: 2007 Honda Civic

On my way home from visiting family in Frankfort, I was able to set up my MetroMile Metronome. I made a half-hearted attempt before I left my house, but was unable to find the diagnostic port before I needed to leave.

There was a really nice (and well-designed) handout that accompanied the device, listing common places where the port is usually found. But in my first attempt, I couldn’t easily track the guy down.

When in Frankfort I ended up sticking my head under the steering wheel, and after feeling around a bit… located the opening for the port. In my head, I think I imagined the opening to be facing the driver’s seat, when in actuality the port faces away from the driver, and towards the engine. This may be something specific to my model (2007 Honda Civic), but once I realized the port faced the opposite directly, things made more sense.

The Metronome, in place. Red light signals that it’s working, and all’s well.

After the first drive, I received an email from the company saying they had successfully logged the trip. I also got a link to the website, and to the iPhone app – both of which I logged into, to check out the details of my travels.

We’ve actually been driving a great deal more than normal, the past few days… as we had several events with friends and family that took is to/from Hyde Park. It was interesting to see all the info that built up, as each trip was saved through the device.

In exploring around a bit more – the iPhone app seems to be a little buggy (there have been a few times where it’s just crashed on me, simply when I was looking at prior trip data). But both the app and the website are really well designed, and showcase an interesting array of data from my travels.

Each trip has its own, separate “record” and shows overall time spent traveling, MPG for the trip, along with start and stop times. On my first journey from Frankfort back to Chicago, I stopped for gas about 3 minute after I departed. The records log the whole event as one trip, so I’m guessing there’s some kind of algorithm in place that determines whether someone is stopping for gas/restroom break, or whether someone has arrived at their destination.

On seeing some of the data being recorded, I have to say… it’s a little unsettling. Every trip is logged, and I can see down to the cross streets where I started and where I stopped. Each trip also logs the departure/arrival times, along with the distance traveled.

And just now – I found the feature on the website where you can view a single trip in greater detail. You can replay a prior trip in a kind of condensed 30-second interactive video, which even shows you details on how fast you were driving.

This additional finding isn’t surprising, really. One of my thoughts was that if the Metronome is tracking all your car data, well then of course it would also track your speed. But could it track other things as well – whether or not the passengers in the vehicle had on seat belts? The volume level of the radio/music playing?

While the premise of by-the-mile insurance works to my benefit, could the additional data being recorded work to my detriment? If I got into an accident, could my claims be lessened or denied if, say, the Metronome device determined that I was going over the posted speed limit at the time/location of the accident?

I think that MetroMile is an interesting company, that really is trying to find its niche by helping low-frequency drivers pay less for their car insurance. And while I have some trepidation regarding the, quite frankly, massive amount of data I’m sending their way – my sense is that they aren’t capturing all that data to screw me over at some future point. That’s a terrible business model, after all.

But with the information they have (and will have) available on my vehicle, and my driving patterns… what will be done with all that data? Having installed the Metronome on my car, it’s really gotten me thinking a lot about this trade off, between my data and the benefits MetroMile provides. The technology at work here is really cool, and as a tech person I definitely see the appeal here. But the implications of all this information being relayed back and forth – to what end, and to whose benefit… those are the questions worth asking.

I plan on using MetroMile for a while yet. Should be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.

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