We like it when the accumulated speed data from GPS devices helps us avoid traffic incidents and school zones. As it turns out, though, there are some other uses for the same stats. Dutch news outlet AD is reporting that such data captured by TomTom navigation devices has been purchased by the country's police force and is being used to determine where speed traps and cameras should be placed. TomTom was reportedly unaware its data was being used in such a way, but if the police would only agree to sell the data on the location of its speed cameras and traps back to TomTom, why, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Update: TomTom has issued a statement, which we have embedded after the break. To be totally clear all this data is being collected anonymously and the police have no idea exactly who is speeding, just that speeding has taken place.
Update 2: We have an English-language video from TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn embedded after the break. In it he says that the company will "prevent that type of usage" of the navigation data going forward. So, no need to turn off the 'ol GPS when you're late for work tomorrow morning.
Show full PR text
1) 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.
2) 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.