Traffic & transportation

October 07, 2020

Is my data safe with a cloud-based ANPR service?

The concerns, questions and solutions – for traffic experts who wonder how safe their data is with an online vehicle identification service.

As cloud-based applications become a part of everyday life, traffic experts might be wondering how safe their data is with an online vehicle identification service. The following article will fill you in on the concerns that users like yourself might have – like cloud data protection – if you choose a “Software as a Service” application as opposed to an on-premise solution, and provide you with a due diligence checklist to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Finally, we tell you a bit about our approach to developing our ANPR Cloud vehicle identification software to make our customers lives easier and more efficient.

Up in the cloud

Whether it’s sunny or raining, in the 21st century everything’s literally “up in the cloud” – your photos are uploaded to Google Photos; your music is not on CDs or vinyl records, it’s on cloud-based music services like Spotify or Pandora. Meanwhile, you use shared spreadsheets in your business to work collaboratively with your colleagues; you communicate with them over online conference software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

SaaS data privacy
the usage of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions play a vital role in our digital transformation trends

Behind the scenes, there are so-called “Software as a Service” (SaaS) applications, which are also cloud based. According to a survey from McKinsey, ever-more companies are adopting such services, which are seeing a growth rate of 20% per year, and software developers are increasingly pursuing SaaS applications – but clients who choose them over regular on-premise software still have concerns about the former’s cybersecurity. It’s in the best interests of SaaS solution providers to address those concerns.

Exactly why have SaaS-based applications become so popular? One only has to look at the extensive list of advantages they give to those who decide to use them over “on-premise” solutions, which can make for big headaches for the business.

Everything happens virtually on Software as a Service solutions, so you wont need to buy a software package from a shop, or download a large program – the software is online, so there’s no need to install anything on your system. There’s also no need to develop, update or maintain it, as the provider does that for you automatically. The SaaS provider also ensures the system is up and running, making things easy for you.

Another cool thing: You won’t need a sophisticated development team of programmers, so you end up saving a lot on the initial investment costs. Subscription-based SaaS programs let you adjust the scalability that your business needs.

Typically, providers of such software services make it super easy for you to use their programs, and when everything’s up and running, it’s almost like things are on autopilot: your system works, you don’t have to pay much attention to it.

SaaS Solutions: Nothing’s perfect? (yet)

Sounds like a perfect universe, right? Well, of course the devil is in the details of every solution, and there are some concerns that go with relying on a SaaS solution. The primary aspects software users are sometimes concerned about are the safety and integrity of your data, because any data of yours or that you submit through the application will be on the provider’s server – not on your own.

cloud data security issues
for some users, the cloud still seems cloudy – despite all its advantages

This raises some big questions like:

  • Will we have control over the data we submit?
  • How easily can we access those data?
  • How well is that information protected?
  • Will others gain access to it?
  • If we don’t have complete control, should we worry about identity theft?

Vehicle Identification: Specific concerns

If you’re in a business dealing with vehicle identification / transportation surveillance and operate a car park or a toll road, your vehicle identification software collects data from the cars that have been detected by your hardware, so it pays to run through the same questions we asked above.

How much of a sticking point should data integrity be if you decide on a cloud-based solution for your vehicle identification system?

How does a SaaS application deal with GDPR?

Well, there’s no doubt that if you operate a toll road in Europe, you’re aware of car owners’ license plate information being considered “personal” data for which individuals must give their consent to third parties for use – and those third parties must manage such data under the rules of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

license plate is sensitive data
though the term may sound strange, license plates are also considered as personal data, according to GDPR

But if such an organization is subscribed and has their hardware (e.g. traffic monitoring cameras) hooked up to a SaaS application, the operators of that application are the ones processing the data. This means that the software provider must have proper technical and organizational controls for compliance with the regulation to protect individuals’ privacy.

To make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered, we suggest doing a bit of a diagnostic on, for example,whether others can access the data that you collect. Review your SaaS vendor’s policies and procedures, and gauge how stable the vendor is and be sure to communicate with the software provider on where your data will be stored, and specifics about the terms & conditions of using the service. Hopefully, the vendor’s transparency on these issues will ease your concerns.

Adaptive Recognition’s ANPR Cloud: Our approach

With all that in mind, would you mind if we told you a little bit about our ANPR Cloud system designed specifically for business operating in the vehicle identification industry? We’ve put in a lot of time and elbow grease into addressing the questions and considerations users like yourself may have about using our SaaS application to operate access control systems for a wide variety of scenarios: from road safety solutions to tolling systems, from transportation surveillance to smart parking solutions.

cloud ANPR service
ANPR Cloud: our brand new, online vehicle identification service

To get you started, we’d like to run through a couple of the specific data usage questions that you’re sure to come across regarding our SaaS solution, or any other – and show how we respond to such queries.

Perhaps you’re concerned with one of the most basic questions, i.e. what is the user data management protocol for our service? In answering this, we should emphasize that our data management policies and procedures are completely compliant with the EU’s strict GDPR rules. (you can find detailed information in our privacy policy)

But what about the pictures involved in, say, a road tolling operation – “What happens to those?” you might ask.

When you send an image to ANPR Cloud API, we must store that image for a short moment (80-200ms), only to call the recognition algorithm and return the results to you. For online (immediate response) operations, the image data is processed in memory and not persisted to disk.

It is also important to mention that your data is not stored in the cloud, at all. Your data are used only for the recognition process, temporarily stored in the Amazon web server’s ultra-encrypted storage before being entirely deleted. Both, images submitted to the cloud and the data sent back to your system, are secured with SSL encryption. Moreover, you can be sure that we will never ever share any images with any entity other than the web services provider that hosts our service. Does that address your concern?

For more info on those and related topics, please check out the Data Usage FAQ section on the ANPR Cloud website or take a look at our Data Processing Agreement.

If for some reason you feel those sections don’t answer your questions, you can also contact us directly – our experts are very proud of their achievement and would love to tell you about their system. And with a free trial at your fingertips, perhaps we can encourage you to take Adaptive Recognition’s could-based ANPR out for a spin. Let’s do it!