How does Mobile Tracking work?

Flexible Mobile Phone Tracking Solutions

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 accuracy of network-based techniques varies, with cell identification as the least accurate 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. The location of a mobile phone can be determined using client software installed on the handset.

Mobile Phone Tracking - Crystal Ball MobileTrack

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, [5] [6] [7] 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.

The best monitoring solution

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. 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.

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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.

In order to route calls to a phone, the cell towers listen for a signal sent from the phone and negotiate which tower is best able to communicate with the phone. As the phone changes location, the antenna towers monitor the signal, and the phone is "roamed" to an adjacent tower as appropriate.

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By comparing the relative signal strength from multiple antenna towers, a general location of a phone can be roughly determined. Other means make use of the antenna pattern, which supports angular determination and phase discrimination. Newer phones may also allow the tracking of the phone even when turned on and not active in a telephone call. This results from the roaming procedures that perform hand-over of the phone from one base station to another.

A phone's location can be uploaded to a common website where one's friends and family can view one's last reported position.

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Newer phones may have built-in GPS receivers which could be used in a similar fashion, but with much higher accuracy. This is controversial, because data on a common website means people who are not "friends and family" may be able to view the information. Locating or positioning touches upon delicate privacy issues, since it enables someone to check where a person is without the person's consent. In Malte Spitz held a TED talk [14] on the issue of mobile phone privacy in which he showcased his own stored data that he received from Deutsche Telekom after suing the company.

He described the data, which consists of 35, lines of data collected during the span of Germany 's data retention at the time, saying, "This is six months of my life [ Spitz concluded that technology consumers are the key to challenging privacy norms in today's society who "have to fight for self determination in the digital age. China has proposed using this technology to track commuting patterns of Beijing city residents.

In Europe most countries have a constitutional guarantee on the secrecy of correspondence , and location data obtained from mobile phone networks is usually given the same protection as the communication itself.


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In the United States , there is a limited constitutional guarantee on the privacy of telecommunications through the Fourth Amendment. United States that the government violates the Fourth Amendment by accessing historical records containing the physical locations of cellphones without a search warrant. It ticks all the boxes and is a better solution all round. Our team of product experts are waiting to answer any mobile tracking questions you may have.


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  • To see a full breakdown of all our mobile tracking features, d ownload our MobileTrack Guide. Customer Login Contact Us. How does Mobile Tracking work?

    A free application with many features

    Automated Timesheets delivers accurate data that can be used for wages, overtime, or billing time to customers. Total Fleet Visibility If vehicle tracking is not an option for your business, because maybe part of your fleet is privately owned vehicles grey-fleet , or if you want to extend the visibility you get from vehicle tracking to employees outside of their vehicles, then mobile phone tracking is the best option.

    Because it tracks the same basic metrics as vehicle tracking Speed, Location, Time on Site, Speeding, etc It can use GeoFences to count visits in and out of specific locations drawn on the map You receive alerts when specific events happen speeding, excessive idling You can analyse historical journey reports. How does mobile tracking work?


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    • To track your mobile phone using Crystal Ball's Mobile Track solution, you would need to install our tracking app on a compatible handset. Once you have installed the application you can then login to our web based tracking portal and view the locations of your mobile devices on our mapping interface, play back journeys, setup alerts and download historical journey or event reports. How does GPS Technology work?