CropManage is an online decision support tool that uses cloud computing and databases to store farming information for providing decision support on irrigation and nitrogen management. This article explains how privacy and security of data is protected.
Why online software? To help growers quickly make decisions on water and fertilizer management we developed CropManage to be fast, convenient, and easy to use. Our vision is that CropManage should be accessible from anywhere you work at anytime. You can use it in your truck from a smart phone, in the office from your desk top computer, or from home with your laptop or tablet computer. To achieve this flexibility we designed CropManage as an online application. Because the software is hosted on the internet you do not need to sync devices to update records, and multiple users can view and interact with the data. You are also free from the hassles of periodically updating the software on your computer.
Why use a database? CropManage can only provide accurate decision support on water and fertilizer management using specific information about your fields. This data includes properties of the soil, planting information, and characteristics of the irrigation system. To keep CropManage simple to use, data needed for future calculations are stored in a database. When you want an irrigation or fertilizer recommendation for any of your fields additional inputs of data are minimal because most of the required information is already loaded in the software. Because CropManage retains your data, you have access to your soil test, fertilizer, and irrigation records at anytime whether you are in the field or at the office. You can also export all of your data to your computer that can be viewed with a spreadsheet program such as Excel.
How do we keep your data private? Perhaps the biggest concern of an online tool is the security of the data. The University of California has a long-standing practice of keeping grower information confidential to the fullest extent possible under UC policy and California statute. We take this commitment seriously because we want to assure continued cooperation between growers and UC researchers.
We designed CropManage to maintain the privacy of all data entered by users. User access to ranch data is determined by a “virtual” ranch owner, who designates which users can view and edit data. This feature allows the grower to determine who can and cannot view and edit data. The “virtual” ranch owner can change user access and privileges at any time.
Another privacy concern is that your data will be available to other entities. Many commercial websites do collect data about their users which they may use for internal purposes or sell to outside entities. To the fullest extent allowable under UC policy and California statute your information will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any non-UC entity for any reason whatsoever, individually or in aggregate. However, it is possible that we may have to release your information if required by law.
Periodically CropManage staff send out emails for announcements and e-newsletters to users. Users have the option to unsubscribe from these emails. The list of users and email addresses are not shared with non-UC entities.
As with all UC research projects, we will not analyze your data unless granted permission by the grower.
How do we protect your personal information? A minimal amount of personal information is needed to set up a login for access to CropManage (email address and name). Nevertheless, we implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you enter, submit, or access your personal information.
We use a secure server hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS) which regularly backs up data and follows the latest security protocols to prevent theft of data. All supplied sensitive information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our database to be only accessed by you, or UC personnel authorized with special access rights to our systems for development purposes.
After deleting your account, your information will be removed completely, and unavailable to any entity including UC ANR.
Can a user remain completely anonymous? Some users of this software may prefer to remain anonymous. The data cannot be traced back to a specific user or farm if names are changed. However spatial data is require for some functions. CropManage uses longitude and latitude coordinates when Spatial CIMIS is selected for the source of evapotranspiration data. CropManage also requires users to indicate the latitude and longitude coordinates of a planting for retrieving satellite estimates of canopy cover and soil property data.
In order to ensure maximum privacy, these steps can be taken:
- Use an anonymous email address when registering for this system.
- Do not enter the name of your farm or fields.
We designed CropManage to be simple and convenient to use by taking advantage of cloud computing. All precautions are and will be taken to assure that private data remains private and protected from outside entities. UC will not redistribute your data to outside entities to the fullest extent allowable under UC policy and California statute. At any point, you can export your data to your own computer, and you retain the option to completely remove your data from the CropManage database by deleting your ranch or account. Finally, you can use CropManage anonymously by not providing data that would identify the users and farming operation.