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Connecting People

October 4, 2010

This post has been conceptualized for IndiBlogger’s “Share Life Blogger Contest” in collaboration with Tata Docomo. Tata DOCOMO has launched Alcatel OneTouch Net phone to help you share life as you live it. Go check it out !! I present an idea for a new Smartphone App.

We live in a World of uncertainties; you never know what will happen in the next few moments. People tend to take all kind of precautions to be able to counter or more realistically, face these uncertainties. Natural Calamities, Accidents, Crimes are some examples of these uncertainties and they have direct imminent danger on human lives (and maybe our near and dear ones).

Keeping the above context in mind and considering the kind of progress technology has made in the Cellular technology, one thing comes to my mind, how to use this technology to decrease or at least be more prepared for these uncertainties. As we all know that the Cellular Network is maintained through a network of antennas and Cellular phones communicate through these antennas.

(In Layman’s terms, Base Switching Centre- BSC controls a set of base stations (antennas) and Mobile Switching centre controls the BSCs. The Cell Phone connects to the base stations and is routed to the desired destination phone through a complex switching mechanism using BSC and MSC.)

More Info: http://www.cellular.co.za/howagsm.htm

At any point of time, the approximate location of a cell phone can be determined depending on which Cell Tower it is receiving signal from. So it might be possible for Cellular companies to find out the approximate location of a sim (phone). I have read several instances of phone companies helping Police in their investigations through Cell Phone tracking. When such a technology is there, why don’t provide it to commoners.

Based on the above bit of Info, I thought of an Application that will enable tracking of a phone based on the base station the phone is receiving signal from. Of course there will be some rules around which this application will be built. The Tracking will only be allowed given a written permission obtained from the tracked phone owner, you can’t just track any xyz number. This will enable tracking the location of any individual provided he/she is carrying the phone (and it is on and catching network).

This application will be of great help to parents who want to keep an eye on their children and track their whereabouts. Also it will be helpful for managing small scale Sales teams and the sales manager will be able to track the team on the field and of course catch any lies (if any). Needless to say it might also be used by people to track their spouses for safety reason (tell this reason only, else you are screwed ;-)). What I am trying to say is the uses of this application can be numerous and since it requires permission from a subscriber to be tracked, it doesn’t hinder anyone’s privacy as well.

As all applications, it has some loopholes as well. This application has no use if the phone is switched off, is out of signal area, or is left at a certain place. But barring these situations it can prove to be an excellent application for people to be in touch with each other and know their whereabouts all the time.

It shows an excellent avenue for Phone Companies as well to earn extra revenue (as they will be providing the service). All in all, it’s a win all situation.

Disclaimer: I haven’t done any research regarding this topic, so pardon me if any such application is already available. This idea came to me from Nokia’s tagline ‘Connecting People’ and if such an application isn’t available and any company (especially Docomo) is willing to give this application a try, do give me my royalties 🙂

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 1:44 pm

    Unfortunately, location tracking is to mobile communications what Ajit Agarkar is to Indian Cricket … Lot’s of talent and potential, but execution is the sore area …

    Now there are two main reasons it hasn’t taken off. Firstly, system constraints 🙂 .Telecom Techn0logy is run on (in 90% of telecom operators worldwide) third generation Eriksson IN’s (Intelligent network), and these systems are notoriously fickle and unreliable (which cannot be helped as they deal with immense loads of data). Which is why any maintenance or changes in Telecom products are done at 12 midnight (my sympathies to any telecommunication engineers reading this over the night shift).

    Let us take an average figure of 10 mn subscribers with say Airtel Delhi spread over 7000 cell towers, now each tower has three BSC ID’s … so a sub can be anywhere among 18000 BSC ID’s …

    For an application to dig out in near real time (without unstablizing the whole system) the location of 1 among 10 mn subs across 18000 BSC ID’s is tricky and terribly sluggish in practice. Which is the reason even the police have to wait a couple of hours to get any answers while they are trying to use location tracking to solve crimes.

    Another reason why location tracking hasn’t taken off is that a cell tower approximately covers a 5 square mile area, so your application may tell you that your child is somewhere in Bandra, it will not be able to tell you whether he is in a movie hall in Bandra or in his evening tution classes. Similarly, a marketer may be sending out a targeted mobile ad for an eatery to somewhere who latched on to a nearby tower while traveling between Delhi and Mumbai.

    All that said, these days Telecom product managers are desperate enough to try anything that may have a chance of working, so the next time you want to see how a crude version of this application works, go to the STK menu in your Airtel phone and check out Airtel friends, which is their attempt at a location tracking product 🙂

    On the other hand, if you hop across to Japan which is now on 4.5 G and (HSDPA) High-Speed Downlink Packet Access Technology, you can see a much advanced version, which is perhaps we will see Indian Telecom operators move to in 5 years and about a 1000 crores of spending in systems later …

    tk care
    CS

  2. Vartika permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:28 am

    Nice Idea!!is the contest still up…? If yes..then All the best for the same. I wonder how many feuds will this technology add to the existing pot of arguments between spouses! ;D

  3. October 8, 2010 11:34 pm

    Really good technical post… loved the analysis in the link you gave. I had a doubt: I have read about boosters in addition to Base Stations which can strengthen the signal in a textbook, but could not find much info; can you shed any light on this? Thanks 🙂

    Do read my post below, and vote for it if you like 🙂
    Lolland – Too Smart to be True

    • October 11, 2010 10:13 pm

      Hey thanks for the comment. Yes even i have heard about boosters especially in crowded areas with tall buildings, will forward you info if i find any. 🙂

  4. October 6, 2010 8:39 pm

    Very Informative post.All the best for the contest.

    If you like something about my blog,do VOTE ME!
    http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=34845
    Your Vote counts for me!

  5. October 6, 2010 1:27 pm

    Yes , I think BSNL and Airtel are offering such type of service but special subscription and fee is there.
    All the best for the contest

    • October 6, 2010 2:00 pm

      Ahh really !! I doubt it Sujith, bujt still will search there websites for info. Thanks for the comments..

  6. October 6, 2010 6:26 am

    Good day!This was a really fine subject!
    I come from milan, I was fortunate to search your blog in bing
    Also I obtain a lot in your theme really thanks very much i will come again

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