My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Mobile Triangulation without GPS - a solution to crime under our noses

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mobile Triangulation without GPS - a solution to crime under our noses

With the whole world ramping up for 4G as stated in the article “On call: Welcome to 4G”, published March 9, 2010 11:01 AM PST by Kent German, Dialed In  - CNET News, be it LTE or WiMax (IEEE 802.16d) as stated in the article “WiMax deployments ramp globally, but US lags” published February 16, 2010 7:53 AM PST by Larry Dignan, Wireless - CNET News.  

There are already signs that there is a preference for LTE among Telecom Providers as Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow conceded in the article “Sprint, Clearwire CEOs ponder LTE for future”, published March 24, 2010 12:01 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CTIA 2010 - CNET News.

It even goes as far as to suggest that the next generation of high speed internet may be a fusion of WiMax and LTE, as both use the same modulation schema as he was also quoted as saying in the article “Clearwire calls for one global Mobile technology”, published March 24 2010, Reuters, Yahoo! News

While albeit possible, this future scenario is highly unlikely owing to the proprietary nature of LTE, a close cousin of 3G and owned by the 3GPP and GSMA and WiMax’s Open Architecture roots supported by the WiMax Alliance a consortium including such heavy hitters as Intel, Comcast, Google and AT&T as stated in the article “Report: Clearwire gets more cash from investors”, published November 9, 2009 10:56 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, Signal Strength - CNET News.

But there is still no news, whether it be from the United States of America, the EU, or any other developed country in the world about the use of 3G or 4G technology in fighting the number one social problem worldwide, which is crime, expected to increase with the worsening Recession as the threat of a Double Dip Recession or “W” shaped Recession Recovery as opposed to a long term “U” shaped Recession Recovery a theory echoed by Dennis Chung in the article “RISK OF A DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION?” published Friday, September 18, 2009, contributed by Dennis Chung, The Jamaica Observer  

It looms due to the expected peaking of oil as stated in the article IEA official wanrs of shrinking oil supplies: Report”, Sunday August 2nd, 9:04 pm ET, AFP, Yahoo! News ( in which oil production around the world would have been outstripped by demand and thus prices of oil would be driven by demand only and not speculators

This is an outrageous fortune that has been forecasted by none other than Sir Richard Branson and British Business Leaders in the article “World faces Oil Crunch by 2015”, published Sunday 14 February 2010, AFP as already the commodity is silently rising in price.

A fact gone unnoticed by most member of John Public worried about “Dudus”, cancelled visas and increased Government of Jamaica taxes which most members of John Public were not paying all this time. And yet we have the solution, literally in the palm of our hand, the very Mobile phones that we just cannot live without and it is specifically tailored to Jamaica.

Currently whenever you make a call on your Mobile phone, the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) keeps track of the last cell Tower you made contact with in initiating you call right up to the point that you ended your conversation.

In fact, you are being constantly tracked by the Telecoms Provider’s Network so as to make it easier for the Network to route calls to you each time someone calls. Even more interesting is that each cell Tower has three (3) sets of antennas (Andrews or Agisson, which may be single band or dual band) in each of the three sectors, Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

Alpha sector is always facing due north and Beta and Gamma sectors being separated by 120 degrees in a clockwise rotation about the apex of the Tower.

This means that every radio contact with the antennas is in a specific direction and has specific signal strength, as evident to the learned John Public from the fluctuation of signal on their Mobile phone display.

Thus, with a little trigonometry and a Database of the precise GPS coordinates of each cell Tower, it should be relatively easy to get a lock on the exact location of persons by using two (2) cell towers to within a 10 meter square, with a more precise lock within a two (2) meter square if you are using three (3) towers.

The problem with this however is obvious: it is spectrally inefficient and thus expensive to use three (3) channels to track the location of one (1) moving object, hence the lack of widespread usage of this type of personal tracking and the focus on the development of GPS modules that can be placed in anything from smart phones to shoes. Thus research into Mobile Triangulation was largely abandoned……….until now.

A technology startup owned by company 4TS and financed by an unknown angel investor. The startup, named GloPos, it is run by a pair of Telecom Provider veterans Mikael Vainio and Alexander Le Bell with decades long experience from Nokia and Ericsson.

They both have developed a Mobile Triangulation technology that enables precise Geo-Location using legacy handsets, eliminating the need for smart phones with built in GPS as stated in the article “Global Positioning without GPS”, published September 13, 2009, 11:30PM EST by Kevin Tofel, GIGAOM BusinessWeek, using only one (1) cell Tower.

It basically involves taking ultra precise measurements of every cell Tower in a Telecoms Providers Mobile Network and storing that information in a Database specifically the dimensions, angular orientation and precise GPS location of the cell Tower, from the base of the Tower up to the antennae (Agisson or Andrews) in the crow’s nest atop the Tower. This information is then placed into a Database.

Then whenever their arises a need to find the location of a Mobile phone or device connected to the Telecoms Provider Network, be it a GSM or CDMA Network, their Mobile Triangulation Server would send a Data packet of 100 kb in size from its Server to the last know location of the Mobile phone as reported by the MSC.

Based on the time the Mobile phone takes to return the signal as well as the precise GPS location of each Tower, the sector and the angular of orientation of the radiation flux produced by the radiation lobe pointing in the direction of the Mobile phone, the exact location can be found with a precision as good as and even better than a GPS and faster too.

This as the processing of the signal Data takes only milliseconds or just as much time it would take  to “ping” and IP address using the ping command in DOS. Sounds simple enough, as it is spectrally efficient uses only one (1) Voice Data channel and one (1) Tower on a Telecoms Provider Network and despite it proprietary roots is easy to replicate, dramatically lowering the cost of implementation.

Thus why no interest in the implementation of this type of VAS (Value Added Service) by Telecoms Providers, especially as the law is on the side of the Senator Dwight Nelson, Minister of Security and Justice? The answer is also very simple: MNP (Mobile Number Portability).

Currently MNP is on the cards as stated in the article “OUR signals policy shift on portability - Says Jamaica running out of phone numbers”, published Friday November 20, 2009 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This despite initial reservation being expressed by CEO of Digicel, Mark Linehan that gave the impression that it was years away as expressed in the article “Mobile firms divided on number portability”, published  Friday, 15 May 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner.

To cost effectively implement MNP as a VAS, it would have to be done in manner that would not be a cost to consumers or it will not be accepted, as people could be unwilling to pay to switch providers when they could just as easily purchase a shiny new Mobile phone from the competing Telecoms Provider to which they wish to get service.

This despite the fact that any information on the old phone would be lost or it would have to be painfully transferred by hand from the old device to the new device, assuming that the new device is not an unlocked phone.

MNP, if implemented via the Big Three Telecoms Providers and the other smaller Telecoms Providers registering all their customers and subscribers Phone Numbers, Phone Instruments (Mobile, fixed line Mobile, landline or wired /wireless modems) IMEI and SIM Cards (Mobile, fixed line Mobile, landline or wired /wireless modems) IMSI using Government of Jamaica approved identification i.e. Voters ID, Drivers License, Passport, TRN, Birth Certificate, sharing their company resources and jointly blocking all VOIP traffic both inbound and outgoing from the Telecoms Providers Networks, would pay for itself and be completely free to the customer or subscriber.

The potential of  increased revenue gained from cost savings due to VAS that can be implemented due to the registering of customers, sharing resources and increased revenue via the blocking of VoIP as the National Telecom Regulatory Authority in Egypt has been proactive enough to do  in order to protect its state owned Telecoms Provider’s revenue base as stated in the article “Egypt bans international Internet voice calls”, published April 5th 2010, AFP, Yahoo! News

This may translate to increased salaries for Telecoms Providers Workers, and thus more of a reason for Telecoms Provider Workers to push their management to go MNP. And on of those VAS would be Mobile Triangulation also known as Geo-Location. And there is a demand for it currently aside from assisting the Government of Jamaica in solving crime.

There was recently a story of a woman, Nadine Hamilton, a Corporate Area woman who alleged that her seven (7) year old Shih Tzu Poodle had been abducted from her apartment complex. As stated in an article “JA$100,000 reward for stolen puppy – owner offers big bucks for pet’s return”, published Wednesday march 24th 2010 by Marlon Vickerman, Staff Reporter, The Thursday Star which curiously enough, despite the exorbitant price, is most like the level of money most would wish they could offer to find loved ones who have gone missing.

This type of Mobile Triangulation could be used, as apparently this is a “Missing Persons” or “Missing Animal” type of scenario so often shown on TVJ’s Prime Time News as missing and the cost of the service could be affordable enough for anyone to use to initially locate and track the whereabouts of their loved one

Especially if their Mobile phone is still active or a Mobile tracking device that uses the Telecoms Provider’s Network was attached to the person, as is obviously now possible in AT&T’s Network as stated in the article “AT&T connects everything to its network”, published March 24, 2010 6:55 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CTIA 2010 - Signal Strength

Even the animals could benefit with this type of tracking, both in terms of tracking and registering pets and farm animals for whatever reason, especially if the animal is known to be vicious, as is currently being contemplated by the Government of Great Britain involving the usage of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) as stated in the article “Britain could force owners to microchip their dogs”, published Tue Mar 9, 11:26 am ET  By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer, AP, Yahoo! News

Despite not being a Telecoms Provider connected device, is nonetheless able to provide localized identification and tracking of animals in conjunction with RFID Readers connected to the internet via a 3G or 4G service for a Telecoms Providers’ Network that would relay information once an animal with an RFID’s tag were to pass nearby.

This is not even mentioning the possibilities as it relates to the release of lower risk prisoners into society, who can be made to wear these Mobile tracking devices as a means of tracking them, thus saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year in keeping prisoners in our overcrowded prison facilities.

Senator Dwight Nelson, Minister of National Security and Justice could do well by thus ensuring that MNP (Mobile Number Portability) is implemented as soon as possible, as this lower cost form of personal Geo-Location can be used to cost effectively solve “Missing Persons”, “Missing Animal” or Abduction cases

Track criminals once their Mobile phone numbers are known and registered by a Telecoms Provider. Reduce the cost of hosting low risk prisoners in jails and a host of other practical uses as it relates to law enforcement and investigative procedure that could be made easier by just simple being able to track people’s movement.

Especially as it is legal and unlike a wiretap does not require a warrant as is currently the case in a similar jurisdiction, the United States of America where the Obama Administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their cell phones' whereabouts.

The U.S. Department of Justice lawyers argue that “a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records” i.e. Mobile device placed and received calls as stated in the article "Feds push for tracking cell phones", published February 11, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Declan McCullagh, CNET News - Politics and Law,

In Jamaica, it is the case that a customer’s personal registration information is kept on a Database and their location constantly being tracked by Telecoms Provider Networks and currently with no Charter of Rights and Freedoms in place to oppose such a bold move by the Government of Jamaica, specifically the Ministry of National Security and Justice.

This as it is unreasonable for people to expect any high level of privacy, especially as Triple Play Provider FLOW recently was able to publish the names and phone numbers of some of the users of its landline service in the Phone Directory used by Telecom Provider LIME with little quarrel as stated in the article “Privacy Breached - FLOW cleints railing against Directory Listings”, published January 31st 2010, the Sunday Gleaner by Mark Titus, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Loss of our personal privacy is a small price to pay to rid society of crime, as already, we have begun installing cameras in certain towns as a means of combating crime and collecting increased traffic fines as stated in the article “CCTV speed Traps - Surveillance Cams to track Road Hogs” published Monday July 13, 2009 by Tyrone Reid, Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is a process that would require the amendment of legislation in order to use electronic recordings i.e. still photographs, video or audio, be they Digital or Analog at the time of recording the offence, not only as evidence but also as a means of conviction of an offence against the Road Traffic Act – and for any other criminal offence.

Combined with Mobile Triangulation or Geo-Location under MNP, crime could be easily curtailed in Jamaica, if not entirely eradicated in a space of five (5) years.

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