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New Zealanders more willing to share location data following COVID - report

The is an increase in the understanding of and willingness to share location data across New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic and other disasters, according to a new survey from HERE Technologies. 

The survey of 500 New Zealanders aged 18 and over showed half believe they have become more willing to share location data over time.  

Catastrophic events such as earthquakes and Covid-19 have made over half (55%) of New Zealanders more aware of how their location data could be used. This figure drops for those in rural areas and rises for those living in cities, showing a divide in terms of geography.  

Over half (58%) of respondents say they use location data daily or a few times a week, with a third (34%) saying they have some or all location data services switched on. 

While nearly half (47%) of New Zealanders know how to turn location data on or off across apps and services, those aged 18-34 are almost three times as likely as the over 54s to feel comfortable doing so (60% vs 22%), the survey revealed.

"New Zealanders have a good understanding of their location data, how it is used and what the benefits can be," says Kirk Mitchell, Vice President, APAC Corporate Development at HERE Technologies.

"Gaps in knowledge and comfort levels largely exist when demographics and geography are considered, with those in the older age brackets and those living in rural areas most impacted," he says.

"For example, our research shows those residing in cities are more likely to be using location data than those in rural areas. A lack of access may be the reason - without the infrastructure required to use these services it is harder to understand the importance of location and its benefits," says Mitchell.

"The government's $15m investment into rural broadband updates announced early this year should start to bridge this gap over time."

Trust in the Public Sector vs. Private 

The research reveals there is still some hesitation around sharing location data, with over half of New Zealanders (58%) saying the use of their data by companies or government agencies is something that concerns them.  

The top factors that make people more likely to share their location data are knowledge of how it is being stored and used, knowing it is helping keep themselves or loved ones safe, and making their life easier. 

When it comes to the collection, storage and use of personal location data, around over a third (35%) are equally distrustful of government agencies and companies, while a third trust the government more, and just one in ten are more trusting of companies. 

People were most comfortable with government agencies using their data for emergency response services, the monitoring and controlling of current and future pandemics, and bringing healthcare services closer to patients.  

When it comes to private companies the most popular use cases were finding local stores or services, finding points of interest or accommodation while travelling, and health and fitness tracking. 

Overall use of location data by government agencies is broadly preferred over private companies, according to the research.

Sixty four percent of those surveyed believe their personal location data can be used positively by government agencies vs. just 39% for private companies. Belief in private companies drops for those over 54, demonstrating age is a deciding factor when it comes to comfort levels around commercial uses of location data. 

"This perceptible and positive shift in attitudes towards location data is positive news for government agencies and private companies," says Mitchell.  

"Older age groups value the safety aspects more than most, which could suggest they are simply more discerning about how their data is used and by whom," he says.

"This poses a challenge to private companies wanting to offer location-based services to the population at large, but clear communication around usage and storage could help boost comfort levels."