Limits...
Ensuring Confidentiality of Geocoded Health Data: Assessing Geographic Masking Strategies for Individual-Level Data.

Zandbergen PA - Adv Med (2014)

Bottom Line: This typically consists of applying a certain amount of random perturbation in a systematic manner to reduce the risk of reidentification.A number of geographic masking techniques have been developed as well as methods to quantity the risk of reidentification associated with a particular masking method.Any researcher publishing such maps is advised to become familiar with the different masking techniques available and their associated reidentification risks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Geography, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.

ABSTRACT
Public health datasets increasingly use geographic identifiers such as an individual's address. Geocoding these addresses often provides new insights since it becomes possible to examine spatial patterns and associations. Address information is typically considered confidential and is therefore not released or shared with others. Publishing maps with the locations of individuals, however, may also breach confidentiality since addresses and associated identities can be discovered through reverse geocoding. One commonly used technique to protect confidentiality when releasing individual-level geocoded data is geographic masking. This typically consists of applying a certain amount of random perturbation in a systematic manner to reduce the risk of reidentification. A number of geographic masking techniques have been developed as well as methods to quantity the risk of reidentification associated with a particular masking method. This paper presents a review of the current state-of-the-art in geographic masking, summarizing the various methods and their strengths and weaknesses. Despite recent progress, no universally accepted or endorsed geographic masking technique has emerged. Researchers on the other hand are publishing maps using geographic masking of confidential locations. Any researcher publishing such maps is advised to become familiar with the different masking techniques available and their associated reidentification risks.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Conceptual illustration of geographic masking. A set of original locations (a) is created using address geocoding or field data collection using GPS. These locations correspond very closely to the residences of interest, although a certain amount of error might be present. For each location, a masked representation is created (b) by displacing the original location using one of several algorithms. Most algorithms include a certain degree of randomness in the displacement. The original locations are removed from the dataset, resulting in a set of masked locations (c) for publication and distribution purposes. The set of masked locations has the same number of observations as the set of original locations.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection


getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4590956&req=5

fig4: Conceptual illustration of geographic masking. A set of original locations (a) is created using address geocoding or field data collection using GPS. These locations correspond very closely to the residences of interest, although a certain amount of error might be present. For each location, a masked representation is created (b) by displacing the original location using one of several algorithms. Most algorithms include a certain degree of randomness in the displacement. The original locations are removed from the dataset, resulting in a set of masked locations (c) for publication and distribution purposes. The set of masked locations has the same number of observations as the set of original locations.

Mentions: Geographic masking is the process of altering the coordinates of point location data to limit the risk of reidentification upon release of the data. In effect, the purpose of geographic masking is to make it much more difficult to accurately reverse geocode the released data. Figure 4 illustrates the general concept of geographic masking.


Ensuring Confidentiality of Geocoded Health Data: Assessing Geographic Masking Strategies for Individual-Level Data.

Zandbergen PA - Adv Med (2014)

Conceptual illustration of geographic masking. A set of original locations (a) is created using address geocoding or field data collection using GPS. These locations correspond very closely to the residences of interest, although a certain amount of error might be present. For each location, a masked representation is created (b) by displacing the original location using one of several algorithms. Most algorithms include a certain degree of randomness in the displacement. The original locations are removed from the dataset, resulting in a set of masked locations (c) for publication and distribution purposes. The set of masked locations has the same number of observations as the set of original locations.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4590956&req=5

fig4: Conceptual illustration of geographic masking. A set of original locations (a) is created using address geocoding or field data collection using GPS. These locations correspond very closely to the residences of interest, although a certain amount of error might be present. For each location, a masked representation is created (b) by displacing the original location using one of several algorithms. Most algorithms include a certain degree of randomness in the displacement. The original locations are removed from the dataset, resulting in a set of masked locations (c) for publication and distribution purposes. The set of masked locations has the same number of observations as the set of original locations.
Mentions: Geographic masking is the process of altering the coordinates of point location data to limit the risk of reidentification upon release of the data. In effect, the purpose of geographic masking is to make it much more difficult to accurately reverse geocode the released data. Figure 4 illustrates the general concept of geographic masking.

Bottom Line: This typically consists of applying a certain amount of random perturbation in a systematic manner to reduce the risk of reidentification.A number of geographic masking techniques have been developed as well as methods to quantity the risk of reidentification associated with a particular masking method.Any researcher publishing such maps is advised to become familiar with the different masking techniques available and their associated reidentification risks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Geography, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.

ABSTRACT
Public health datasets increasingly use geographic identifiers such as an individual's address. Geocoding these addresses often provides new insights since it becomes possible to examine spatial patterns and associations. Address information is typically considered confidential and is therefore not released or shared with others. Publishing maps with the locations of individuals, however, may also breach confidentiality since addresses and associated identities can be discovered through reverse geocoding. One commonly used technique to protect confidentiality when releasing individual-level geocoded data is geographic masking. This typically consists of applying a certain amount of random perturbation in a systematic manner to reduce the risk of reidentification. A number of geographic masking techniques have been developed as well as methods to quantity the risk of reidentification associated with a particular masking method. This paper presents a review of the current state-of-the-art in geographic masking, summarizing the various methods and their strengths and weaknesses. Despite recent progress, no universally accepted or endorsed geographic masking technique has emerged. Researchers on the other hand are publishing maps using geographic masking of confidential locations. Any researcher publishing such maps is advised to become familiar with the different masking techniques available and their associated reidentification risks.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus