Comprising various aspects of IT infrastructure such as storage space, computing power and application software as a service (SaaS) via the internet, cloud computing is playing an increasingly important role in many areas of GIS. In principle, all data is stored and processed in the cloud so that local hardware and software installation is no longer necessary. This ensures that all processes are carried out uniformly and can be updated more easily. However, this often raises the question of how cloud providers manage customer data. In 2012, as part of the EU data protection reform, the European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aimed at harmonizing the rules governing the processing of personal data by private companies and public bodies in all EU member states.
As the GDPR has been mandatory since 25 May 2018, meaning that companies are now required by law to keep their customers’ data confidential and not to disclose it to third parties without their con-sent, data protection in the cloud was a very important topic at this year’s INTERGEO. Leading software and hardware manufacturers expressed their commitment to comply with the GDPR – both by giving paying customers full control over their card data and sensor data stored in the cloud, and by offering non-paying users freer functionality and an increased number of API requests. The most in-demand cloud services are features that allow users to con-vert or export their modelling data into visualization data online and then view it in a compatible web client. This enables them to interactively navigate through virtual city models. Other data sources such as sensor devices are also currently connected to the cloud, in the context of IoT. The measured data is not only stored there, but also visualized according to the user’s needs. Because of the significant benefits of the cloud, many companies are tending to develop a cloud platform for their own products and this trend will become even stronger in the near future.