Keeping control over your data as a smaller fleet company
Olivia Vahsen·Jun 24, 2021

Keeping control over your data as a smaller fleet company

Olivia Vahsen
Developer advocate
Jun 24, 2021 · 7 min read
Keeping control over your data as a smaller fleet company | TomTom Newsroom

Smaller fleet companies have plenty to worry about in terms of privacy and keeping track of connected devices, drivers and assets. Location services don’t have to be one of those vulnerabilities, thanks to TomTom Maps APIs and Map Data.

Connected expectations, segmented reality

Managers of smaller fleet companies face unique challenges when trying to outfit their company with the latest and greatest software to compete in a space with many larger, technically savvy players. Now more than ever, customers are adding privacy to a list of qualifications to determine who they trust with their information. Companies should do the same when looking to protect not only their customers, but their employees and assets as well. This can be incredibly hard for small businesses to accommodate within a tight budget as they try to grow.

It’s common for new companies to be overwhelmed by the selection of tools and APIs when creating proprietary software to manage fleet operations, making it easy to overlook potential data privacy vulnerabilities. One of the most important pieces of the privacy puzzle to reinforce is that of location services.

It’s no secret that many apps unnecessarily ask permission for, and, deep in the fine print, sell location information to advertising companies or third parties, where data privacy policies become murky, making it harder for a user to know where their data is really going. Fleet companies may be particularly at risk as they expand rapidly into different geographic areas or add to their software features over time. As they look to scale their business, these enterprises need to be able to rely on their location services without worrying about a provider selling user data. Maintaining privacy standards while growing a new fleet business is key.

Here, let’s discuss how new fleet companies can look toward expanding their business – without creating vulnerabilities in their location data – by taking advantage of TomTom’s Maps APIs and Map Data.

Location data: privacy pain point?

Fleets specifically have not only their customer’s privacy to protect, but also that of their employees, their assets and their operations, all of which tie back to the vulnerable position of selecting the best location services to stand up to the test of privacy.

For fleet companies, location data is often not so linear as simply a user’s potential location. Fleets deal with countless use cases where location information is key to keeping things running, like knowing where vehicles are when stored, at work sites, during deliveries and on trips with passengers or valuable cargo. Employees also require navigation to and from working areas, to pick up passengers, make deliveries and often make stops along the way, requiring a cohesive location suite for easy access by managers and other oversight.

Writing a software application to host all of these details in one place is no easy task. This application needs to combine the work of any hardwired vehicle tracking systems, employee logs and trip history to make sure important assets are where they should be, and act as the first point of contact if they aren’t – if a delivery is missed, a passenger isn’t picked up or if a vehicle is ticketed for being in the wrong area. On top of everything else, there is still a duty to protect the data of customers on the other end of day-to-day operations.

Data privacy at TomTom

Processing location data is key for us to continue developing and refreshing the maps that power fleet management software worldwide, but these processes need not tie into employees' or users' personal information.

TomTom only collects probe data from connected devices on the road with prior end-user consent. This allows us to work hard on creating optimized mapping, which is where our efforts are invested – not in selling information to third parties. Our Data Protection Officer, Cassandra Moons, explains how this information is kept separate in her article on privacy and the connected car.

TomTom was compliant with the privacy practices we know today as GDPR long before it came into effect, with an industry reputation of transparency and fair information for users. Based in the Netherlands, TomTom has been able to proudly align with European movements toward corporate accountability in the space of rapid, unseen exchanges of personal information that have pervaded public awareness in recent years. Many companies bolster their privacy practices with a focus on responding to breaches, but at TomTom, privacy is built into the design of our products. During development, privacy impact assessments (PIAs) help those involved decide which data is truly necessary to collect for services to function and optimize the mapping experience for customers and users.

TomTom’s Maps APIs make the power of TomTom’s years of refined data available to developers – without ever selling developer portal user data to advertisers. This creates a doorway for small businesses to take advantage of trusted map data for growing their user base, while offering a host of APIs and SDKs that small fleet companies can mix and match to their exact platform and service needs.

IoT and asset tracking

Keeping asset tracking privacy-friendly can seem daunting, but it is possible. Keeping track of fleet assets can help companies to continue expanding their business securely, and doesn’t need to be a point of vulnerability for location data. When working with high value items, such as fleet vehicles, connected devices empower companies to be able to hold the right persons responsible if, for example, a heavy-duty truck is moved off property, taken into a restricted area or incurs damage by crossing a tunnel with low clearance.

TomTom Maps APIs protect user information and offer an easy-to-use, comprehensive solution for location services for smaller fleets. Our suite of Tracking products encompasses several key APIs which can be used to create monitoring solutions for fleet assets: Location History, Geofencing, and Notifications. The Geofencing API allows for perimeter setting, enabling alerts via the Notifications API if a driver takes a vehicle into a restricted area. The Location History API aids in route reconstruction, so managers can see previous trips where issues may have occurred and perform lookbacks to evaluate performance of deliveries or passenger pickups.

These APIs can return extensive data, such as trip times according to road segments. TomTom’s map data is de-identified from important personal details, such as driver or passenger names and internal user IDs. Specifically, journeys and their pertinent data are split into segments tied to certain stretches of road, so that they also do not always represent a collective trip, further separating potential information links in the case of breaches.

Right to deletion

Location data permissions are often examined from the perspective of the customer – but fleet drivers are users providing data too, and need to be protected.

Retaining your fleet’s location information means taking care to separate it from employee’s personal details, which might be necessary for administrative reasons. Because fleet companies inherently deal with location information, not only may this be key to assuring drivers of a secure digital work environment, but also in separating actions taken to protect assets – vehicles, as well as goods transported – from all users’ (employee or otherwise) right to privacy.

Notably, GDPR allows European users of your systems to legally request records and total erasure of retained information. In this case, it is important to segment your data in a way that allows separation between identifying details, and key records such as trip time, delivery journeys and time logs, which may be pertinent for asset security and performance analytics. This segmentation is important when protecting both employees and users, both of which interact with key information important to optimizing operations down the line.

Powering data accountability

Smaller fleet companies are at extra risk of data privacy breaches as they navigate building their software suite, which often handles great amounts of data – and pose risks for user trust, talent acquisition, and asset safety. However, it’s entirely possible to operate with transparent privacy policies as a smaller company, without sacrificing your customer’s experience.

By incorporating TomTom location services into your fleet management suite, optimizing your location data can empower your company’s commitment to privacy, both for users and employees.

Learn more about how TomTom Maps APIs and map data can power your fleet management solution and support vehicle and asset tracking – and discover how we protect your data.

Never miss a story
Get the latest news from TomTom in your inbox.

* Required field. By submitting your contact details to TomTom, you agree that we can contact you about marketing offers, newsletters, or to invite you to webinars and events. We could further personalize the content that you receive via cookies. You can unsubscribe at any time by the link included in our emails. Review our privacy policy.