Thursday, May 14, 2009

Google Maps and privacy

I get asked a lot about how Google Maps works with our data (like the grid viewer, quicksilver, rodsa-dai, etc). Specifically, concerns about privacy and security of sending your data to Google.

There is a popular misconception about Google Maps and how it handles data. Way back in the olden days (~2006) the easiest way to use google maps was to hand google a KML file and google would draw it on their maps site. This was convenient but involved passing your data points to google within a KML file.

PHGrid does NOT do this. We use the Google Maps API which sends no data on to google maps other than requests for map images. No counts or conditions or calls or any data is passed to the google servers. All that stays on PHGrid web servers and users' web browsers. All of the polygons and pins are drawn using Javascript without passing data points back to

So from a privacy concern, Google can tell that a random user is requesting a map of the state of georgia (and scrolling and zooming) but will not know the polygons drawn, the pins placed, the counts that affect the colors or any of the actual AMDS data.


Jeremy Espino MD said...

A concern that we had was the Google Maps Terms of Use. Basically, you are allowed to use the Google Maps API freely if your website is open to the public. From the Google Maps API FAQ:

Can I use the Google Maps APIs on a site that is password protected?

Yes, you can, though you should consult the Terms of Service before using the Google Maps APIs on a password protected website. If consumers can easily sign up for a password without charge or if the purpose of the password protected map is to enhance the publicly available map (i.e. administration), then your site is likely within the Terms of Service. If this is not the case, you will need to use Google Maps API Premier.

Brian Alexander Lee said...

Exactly. That's why for our reference impls and prototypes google maps works out quite well.

But to actually use it in a production system like the BioSense viewer, then someone has to pay for Premier (which is only $10+ based on volume).

Brian Alexander Lee said...

Sorry, I meant $10k. Google says their prices start at US$10,000/year and go up based on estimated and actual page views.