Smart phone tracking

Companies are interested in tracking users' visits because they sell this information for targeted advertising purposes based on location. Location tracking is also needed to enable GPS-based apps with certain functions, like providing directions from one destination to another.

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Fortunately, users can opt out of allowing their smartphone to collect this type of information. They can take simple steps to prevent their phone from silently recording their whereabouts. If you have an iPhone, users can go to settings, click on location services and take a look at which apps are tracking their location.

You can also look at the bottom, under system services, to check if frequent locations is turned off. By turning it off and clearing your history, your smartphone will stop its running tally of where you've been.

Don't let your smartphone track you

The idea behind a cell phone location tracker is simple: install software on the mobile device that sends its location back to you to monitor. To track non- smartphones requires a different method involving contacting the carrier. Perhaps the most common reason to want to track a cell phone is to see where your friends or family are located.

Maybe you want to keep tabs on your kids or spouse to make sure they arrive at school or work on time. Another common reason to use track a phone's location is if it's been stolen. If you have no idea where you cell phone is, you can use a phone tracer to locate it. Or maybe you're in a completely different scenario where you've received a call from a number you don't recognize, and so you want to track the phone number location to see where the caller is from. Generally speaking, yes.

It's illegal to track, access, or modify someone else's cell phone. Only officials who work for law enforcement can do that, and only if they have a warrant to do so. What is legal, however, is tracking a cell phone location if you have explicit permission from the owner. This includes tracking a cell phone that's your own or locating a cell phone that a family member uses but that you are responsible for. To avoid legal repercussions, just make sure to get the owner's go-ahead to track their phone remotely.

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Localization may be effected by a number of technologies, such as using multilateration of radio signals between several cell towers of the network and the phone, or simply using GPS. To locate a mobile phone using multilateration of radio signals, it must emit at least the roaming signal to contact the next nearby antenna tower, but the process does not require an active call.


Mobile positioning may include location-based services that disclose the actual coordinates of a mobile phone, which is a technology used by telecommunication companies to approximate the location of a mobile phone, and thereby also its user. The location of a mobile phone can be determined using the service provider's network infrastructure. The advantage of network-based techniques, from a service provider's point of view, is that they can be implemented non-intrusively without affecting handsets. Network-based techniques were developed many years prior to the widespread availability of GPS on handsets.

The technology of locating is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a powered mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations , so knowledge of the location of the base station implies the cell phone is nearby.

Advanced systems determine the sector in which the mobile phone is located and roughly estimate also the distance to the base station.


Further approximation can be done by interpolating signals between adjacent antenna towers. Qualified services may achieve a precision of down to 50 meters in urban areas where mobile traffic and density of antenna towers base stations is sufficiently high [4].

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Rural and desolate areas may see miles between base stations and therefore determine locations less precisely. GSM localization uses multilateration to determine the location of GSM mobile phones, or dedicated trackers, usually with the intent to locate the user. The accuracy of network-based techniques varies, with cell identification as the least accurate due to differential signals transposing between towers, otherwise known as "bouncing signals" and triangulation as moderately accurate, and newer "advanced forward link trilateration " timing methods as the most accurate.

The accuracy of network-based techniques is both dependent on the concentration of cell base stations, with urban environments achieving the highest possible accuracy because of the higher number of cell towers , and the implementation of the most current timing methods. One of the key challenges of network-based techniques is the requirement to work closely with the service provider, as it entails the installation of hardware and software within the operator's infrastructure. Frequently the compulsion associated with a legislative framework, such as Enhanced , is required before a service provider will deploy a solution.

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The location of a mobile phone can be determined using client software installed on the handset. In addition, if the handset is also equipped with GPS then significantly more precise location information can be then sent from the handset to the carrier. Another approach is to use a fingerprinting-based technique, [6] [7] [8] where the "signature" of the home and neighboring cells signal strengths at different points in the area of interest is recorded by war-driving and matched in real-time to determine the handset location.

This is usually performed independent from the carrier. The key disadvantage of handset-based techniques, from service provider's point of view, is the necessity of installing software on the handset. It requires the active cooperation of the mobile subscriber as well as software that must be able to handle the different operating systems of the handsets.

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One proposed work-around is the installation of embedded hardware or software on the handset by the manufacturers, e. This avenue has not made significant headway, due to the difficulty of convincing different manufacturers to cooperate on a common mechanism and to address the cost issue. Another difficulty would be to address the issue of foreign handsets that are roaming in the network.

The type of information obtained via the SIM can differ from that which is available from the handset. For example, it may not be possible to obtain any raw measurements from the handset directly, yet still obtain measurements via the SIM. Crowdsourced Wi-Fi data can also be used to identify a handset's location. Hybrid positioning systems use a combination of network-based and handset-based technologies for location determination. Both types of data are thus used by the telephone to make the location more accurate i.

Alternatively tracking with both systems can also occur by having the phone attain its GPS-location directly from the satellites , and then having the information sent via the network to the person that is trying to locate the telephone.