TomTom have made a lot of noise about the rich speed data collected from their customers which has been used to develop IQ Routing and improve route calculations.
But they haven't been shouting about another use for the data. In an article by Dutch newspaper AD, it was revealed that police are using it to help position speed traps in the Netherlands.
The data was made available to local governments and authorities in an effort to help reduce congestion and allow them to plan traffic improvements.
With privacy concerns being high on many agendas this week TomTom have said that the data they collect is anonymized. Police are not targeting individuals, instead they are using the historical road speed data to identify roads where speeding may be an issue.
An embarrassed TomTom have been quick to respond to concerns. It is clear that they had not envisaged the speed data being put to this usage and in a statement, released Wednesday, TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn wrote:
"We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit. We are aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage."
A video statement from Harold Goddijn has also been posted on YouTUBE:
TomTom's full statement is copied below:
Official Statement on TomTom’s Customer Data Usage Policy From CEO Harold Goddijn
Yesterday reports emerged suggesting that TomTom's anonymous traffic data is being used by police in the Netherlands for determining locations for speed cameras. In response to customer concerns about this, TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn issued a statement about what TomTom really does with its customer's data. The text of the statement is below but can be found at www.tomtom.com/page/facts.
Harold's statement follows below:
Customers come first at TomTom.
When you use one of our products we ask for your permission to collect travel time information on an anonymous basis. The vast majority of you do indeed grant us that permission. When you connect your TomTom to a computer we aggregate this information and use it for a variety of applications, most importantly to create high quality traffic information and to route you around traffic jams.
We also make this information available to local governments and authorities. It helps them to better understand where congestion takes place, where to build new roads and how to make roads safer.
We are actively promoting the use of this information because we believe we can help make roads safer and less congested.
We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit. We are aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage.
This is what we really do with the data:
We ask for your permission to collect historical data. You can opt in or opt out and can disable the data collection function at any time.
If you are using a LIVE device, you receive traffic information in real time and you automatically contribute to generating traffic information.
We make all traffic data anonymous. We can never trace it back to you or your device.
We turn anonymous data into traffic information to give you the fastest route available and route you through traffic jams in real time.
We are working with road authorities around the world to use anonymous traffic information to help make roads flow more efficiently and safer.
Our goal is to create a driver community capable of reducing traffic congestion for everyone.
Posted by mccririck on Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:06 am
Fair enough isnt it?
Posted by M8TJT on Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:58 am
What? Trap speeders? Whatever next?
I'm getting a whip for my cat.
Posted by Andy_P on Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:53 am
Fair enough isnt it?
I think the point is whether you agreed to let TomTom themselves use that data collected by your device, or whether you agreed to let them sell it on to anyone else.
The wording on-screen implied the former, but the small print (somewhere) that no-one ever reads probably allows the latter.
What? Trap speeders? Whatever next?
And the other point is that it shows the data is used purely to find places where most speeding occurs, NOT the places where more accidents occur due to speeding.
I think we can all come up with examples where the speed limit is unnecessarily low, and as good citizens it is our duty to challenge those restrictions rather than just be sheep and accept every unjustifiable decision they throw at us.
"Settling in nicely" ;-)
Posted by scarymonkey on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:13 pm
I would have expected no more really but (and it is a big but) along with using the data to place speed traps, they must also use this data to find places where speed limits may be too high or low. This will require more analysis than just the TT raw data will give but it does show places where it is certainly possible to drive above the speed limit without obvious issue.
Posted by BigPerk on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:49 pm
It would probably be useful for deployment of mobiles as well, where perhaps statistics show a trend in speed increases at particular spots, especially if there is a parallel increase in accidents there.
(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)
Posted by Seamaster on Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:33 pm
A shabby trick.
Posted by jonbaker12345 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:15 pm