GeoData privacy and security

by Mikako Kuwajima – allmapdata solutions consultant


Feel the fear and do it anyway

Writing in Forbes magazine last year, tech expert Will Cadell explained how geospatial data provides an amazing opportunity for organisations to deliver value to customers – better service and better products.

“The future of geospatial technology probably isn’t a map. The future of geospatial tech might be an email alert, a report, a graph or an ordered list. It will be all those things and likely more.”

Geospatial data is a potentially game-changing business decision tool. We may be most familiar with it in mapping and and route planning. But in fact, it’s all data that’s somehow linked to geography and position. That could be real-time, crowd-sourced traffic-information that cuts your journey time, to credit risk analysis of demographically similar customers, to building insurance pricing using satellite images to determine flood risk.

The universe of data points is growing exponentially

There are already a multitude of data sources – satellite imagery, crowd-fed info, social media check-ins, addresses, weather events and CCTV footage. The Internet of Things is connecting more and more personal and everyday objects and tools to this vast network. Fitness bands and smart trainers gather extensive health data. Machine components, vehicles and household appliances transmit information about wear, usage and whereabouts. Will Cadell describes the cumulative effect as a “now-cast of events”.

As Cadell says, the opportunity is huge for organisations of all kinds to gather, compare, combine and interrogate precisely specified data sets, including GeoData to produce highly accurate and insightful decision information.

But what about privacy and security?

In recent months and years, the very idea of collecting data has become controversial. GDPR legislation now has many organisations and their legal advisors running scared. There are swingeing penalties for unauthorised data collection and usage. The more sources we include, the more permissions we need to be able to gather and record. The more ways we want to use the data, the more options we need to be able to offer data subjects.

It’s a highly complex prospect.

But GDPR and other international privacy laws shouldn’t put you off. Writing for, Aigerim Berzinya points out, “Businesses and organizations that already adhere to an ethical set of practices have nothing to fear by GDPR’s arrival.”

The scale of the opportunity presented by GeoData means it’s worth investing in robust and ethical data guardianship and usage practices for this invaluable resource. Data providers and system developers have already understood this imperative: they want to sell their information and services and they’re doing their best to make it easy and risk-free for organisations to buy from them, building in robust and transparent permission tools and audit trails.

Do the right thing and you don’t need to feel the fear

So it’s right to keep GDPR and data protection at the top of your agenda when considering how and when your business will deploy GeoData. But don’t let fear of a highly publicised risk put you off. There’s far more at stake in missing the opportunity for your organisation.

Good data management practices and clear information benefit individuals, businesses and society. The insight generated by that data benefits them all over again, enabling better products and services as well as enhanced performance and success.

Aigerim Berzinya says of the effort and cost of data compliance, “The appointment of a data protection officer, rewriting of terms and conditions and meeting the stipulated criteria may entail extra work, but it’s all in aid of a better, stronger, safer system.” When it comes to GeoData, it’s also in aid of enabling a huge opportunity for organisations to make smarter decisions that underpin their strategy and growth.

What will GeoData mean for your competitiveness and customer experience?