You’ve read about it in Grishams, you’ve seen it in the movies-the bad guys glue a chip somewhere in the good guy’s car, and they know exactly where he’s going. But you never gave mobile phone tracking a thought as something commercially viable.
Well, not only are they now out there, but they can be set up in as less as a few minutes. So now we never need to lose a mobile phone to a thief again. Technology never ceases to amaze.
It’s pretty straightforward, really. A mobile phone must communicate with one of the base-towers, to function. GSM technology identifies this tower, thereby narrowing down the mobile phone user’s location to the area in which this tower operates phone tracker. This may be to an accuracy of 35 to 50 meters in urban areas, but less precise in rural areas where base stations are located at wider intervals. While such accuracy might be sufficient to locate an automobile, locating a mobile phone in even a 35 meter radius could be tricky.
Another drawback might be that cell phone tracking works only when the mobile phone is receiving a signal from a tower, so if it’s switched off, it cannot be located.
Tracking technology can be network-based, using the service provider’s network to track, like in methods such as triangulation. It may even be handset based (this would require the installation of software, like GPS, in the users’ handset), or a hybrid of both these technologies Buzz journal.
However, this technology can strictly be used only with the permission of the owner of the tracked phone. Since possibilities of violation of the user’s privacy are high, ethics dictate that such locating be allowed only with his express and unequivocal consent.
Many of the newer mobile phone are inbuilt with a GPS system, which may be a bit more costly, but is far more accurate. Interestingly, this can be used to upload the user’s most recent location to a website, which can be accessed by his friends or family.
Whether it be a relief for parents who can now locate their children within a matter of minutes, or for those whose phone was destined to be lost or stolen, tracking technology is certainly here to stay.