If the IT staffs at auto companies are looking more stressed than usual, they have a good reason.
That's the name the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given to its giant new $7 million data management and storage system. Artemis, housed at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass., consists of high-end servers with data processors and storage equipment.
Artemis's job is to help safety officials analyze the huge volume of information that companies will have to glean from their internal files and transmit to NHTSA (nhtsa.dot.gov) beginning this summer. The requirement applies not just to automakers. In varying degrees, thousands of equipment makers and parts suppliers will have to report information as well.
Congress and then-President Clinton ordered the unprecedented gathering of automotive data. The mandate was part of a comprehensive motor vehicle safety law enacted in 2000, following a tragic wave of Firestone tire failures and related Ford Explorer rollover crashes. The law - the TREAD Act - also requires, among other things, that automakers install tire pressure monitoring systems in vehicles and that their products be tested for rollover tendencies.
But it is the reporting of internal records that has the auto industry scrambling at the moment. The provision takes effect April 1. And the first shipment of data is due by Aug. 31.