What Navigation Apps Tell Us About Data Privacy Attitudes

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of connected car owners’ and new car buyers’ data privacy concerns.  The data revealed insights into what makes these drivers more confident about sharing their data for services – it boils down to safety, convenience and fun. Overall, our study showed that while consumers express willingness to share anonymous and personal data with mobility apps and services, they can be wary about it. This dichotomy most apparent when it comes to navigation apps. So I decided to dig in more to explore their attitudes a bit deeper.

Drivers Who Own or Will Buy Connected Cars Use Navigation Apps

Our survey population consisted of connected car owners and people who plan to purchase a car in the next year. 96% of connected car owners and 93% of new car buyers own a smartphone, and 96% of these smartphone owners have at least one navigation app on their smartphones.

Google Maps has the highest adoption at 84% and also receives the most mentions as the preferred choice among drivers who have more than one navigation app installed. In other words, more than 80% of connected car owners and new car buyers have Google Maps on their phone.

But Do These Drivers Realize That Navigation Apps Run on Their Personal Data?

We asked consumers if they ever allow apps to collect anonymous data through the app, such as location. Overall, just 54% of respondents say they allow apps to collect data. In addition, 36% say they do not allow apps to collect data, and 10% say they don’t know.

So we followed this question up by asking those drivers who said they have navigation apps how comfortable they are with navigation apps having their data. Most users—86% of both connected car owners and new car buyers—are at least somewhat comfortable with these apps having their data. Interestingly, 14% were not comfortable, even though they have navigation apps installed.

Anyone who has used a navigation service during rush hour or in a metropolitan area with unpredictable traffic understands the value that it delivers: big time and headache savings. Other parts of our study indicate that most drivers said they are willing to share anonymous data in exchange for this benefit if they are aware that they are sharing data and if they get value. However, our findings here suggest that there are a significant number of drivers who haven’t read the fine print in navigation apps, and don’t really understand that the phones operate by using their location data.

Consumers Are Becoming More Aware of Their Data Privacy

Overall, 2018 has brought a lot more awareness on consumers’ parts that lots of data is being collected, stored and used. There certainly has been plenty of press coverage about data privacy on social media sites and fitness trackers, although not on navigation apps in particular.  On Quora, I found a question about Gooogle Maps’ and Waze’s data collection practices with one lonely upvote.

But This New-Found Awareness Is a Good Thing

When Facebook compromised consumers’ trust, they kept using the service at first … but now Facebook is seeing the effects in the form of slower user growth and less engagement. The ecosystem for apps based on connected car data is in its infancy, and it will grow more predictably with as consumers start using apps and get educated the market. The transportation ecosystem, and automotive manufacturers in particular, have a responsibility to educate drivers and build their trust with transparent discussions about data collection practices and data security.

Read a recent article that I wrote for Autonomous Vehicle Technology to learn about four specific steps that OEMs can take.

Read our full report for more insights on consumer attitudes about connected car data sharing.

Meet Us at CES!

We’ll be in Las Vegas for CES 2019 and would like to meet you there. You can email [email protected] to schedule an onsite meeting.

TOPICS: Data Privacy

Lisa Joy Rosner | CMO

A passionate data privacy advocate with over 20 years of public and startup company experience marketing big data and analytics, Lisa Joy Rosner is the CMO at Otonomo.

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