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TomTom wants your personal data for map updates

Navigation and mapping company TomTom wants to use data from users’ journeys to provide faster and more accurate data for its road navigation software, despite privacy concerns.

The device offers a digital road map which drivers can use to customise their routes and other travel information.

Simon Hania, vice president of privacy and security at TomTom, said at Gartner's Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit 2015, attended by V3 (opens in new tab), that TomTom plans to crowdsource that information to build up a database of travel routes.

"We are allowing users to change that map. You report errors, and we'll make sure we get these errors checked, vetted and approved within 24 hours so you will have a fresh map every day instead of three months. We're not there yet, but in two or three years we will be," he said.

The data can be collected from various sources, like GPS hardware and smartphone apps, and can be used to help the public sector by providing insight into traffic flows.

However, Hania said that the use of people's travel data is a sensitive matter. "Privacy means a lot to a lot of people. To most it resonates with self-determination and non-interference, typically what you want in a car," he said.

He also said the data is encrypted, anonymised, mixed with other data and stored on secure servers with any reference to its owner stripped out.

With an approach like this, TomTom seeks to gain the trust of their customers: “If you cannot explain to your users what you are doing and why, maybe you shouldn't be doing it," he said.

Check out the video above to see how TomTom uses your personal data.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.