International collaboration necessary to enhance data anonymisation

Personal data collected in FOTs such as video and GPS, require a high level of data protection. Experts from Europe and the US, industry and academia, discussed with some 50 participants trends, possibilities and challenges.

Workshop 1-2 September

The first day was devoted to anonymisation of video images. Several techniques are now available to hide the driver’s face using blurring, replacing it by avatars or even facial characteristics from pictures of other people, while maintaining the facial expressions. Making the environment anonymous is much harder. Blurring number plates and pedestrians is possible but buildings are hard to anonymise, so still revealing the location of where a FOT participant is driving.

The second day addressed anonymisation of GPS data, a tough problem, as drivers usually have routine trajectories, which give away a lot about the location of their home and workplaces. Different approaches and algorithms were explained and discussed, but there is not yet an ideal solution.

Anonymisation is becoming more and more important, due to growing awareness of the need to protect participants’ privacy, new laws and regulations, and requirements from project funding bodies.

The workshop concluded that (international) collaboration and discussion between researchers, computer scientists and legal experts is necessary to advance the development towards successful ways to keep personal data anonymous.

If the data could be anonymised while still keeping the information that is essential to research, the access and the re-use of the valuable data would be greatly facilitated.

All presentations are available on the FOT-Net Data library