A rose-tinted spin on poor results doesn’t help anyone, public health conference told
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15 December 2014
There are so many mobile apps tracking your activities, but how does the BetterPoints app work? We take advantage of the Global Positioning System (GPS) built into every smart phone - this is what allows the mapping and 'Sat Nav' applications to guide you to locations and know where you are.
Whilst the GPS will use extra power and therefore run down your battery faster than if you weren't using it, it isn't used unless you have an application running that is actively using it. On top of that the manufacturers work hard to deliver longer battery lives and more efficient use, because so many apps take advantage of the GPS functionality. If you have intentionally or accidently switched off GPS, the BetterPoints app will remind you to switch it on.
Typically the GPS doesn't cost anything - it's outside of the data plan for internet use. However there will be data usage in most apps because data is either used to update maps if they are not stored on the phone or data is uploaded from the app. The BetterPoints app downloads and uploads data, but in very small amounts, and those data amounts should fall within even the lowest data package available from the main mobile phone operators.
If you record an activity of journey we record the location of the event or the start and end points of a journey, including the points along the way. These are called GPS waypoints - if you double-click on a position on a Google map, you will see a number looking like this '51.135097, 1.239485'. This is the longitude and latitude coordinates that allows apps to position you. When you collect a number of these you can build a journey route, and from that the distance and speed.
We don't collect any other personal data from your device, only what you tell us within our mobile app. For example, if you choose Walk as the activity, we will know you walked and the journey that you took, how long you walked for, and how far. This allows us to match your activity to the activity rewards to see if it meets the requirements of the reward. For example, is it in an area, e.g. a park, that is rewarding that type of activity? Does the activity meet the minimum distance, e.g. one half mile?
The most important fact is that we don't share your data with anybody unless you have authorised it. When we share the data with our partners, we anonymise the data so that they cannot tie it back to you. We use the data to create statistics on frequency, change of habits, areas used, etc. This helps partners like the transport departments of local authorities or wellbeing units in public health to plan future services based on what people are really doing.