Cell Phones as tracking devices Essay

Words: 960
Pages: 4



Technology is evolving and becoming smarter, and most technology knows the public better than the public knows themselves. Whether it be through selective advertising by search engines, or the conclusions our personal devices can draw based on given information. If the what the media says is true then anyone who has access to this information could be in a position of great power. What many people may not know is that the government has all of this information. HomeLand Security has released an article that states “There are 233 million cell phone uses in the United States” all of which are tracked ( Healey ). One of the most useful yet lethal sources of information is the government's ability to use cellular devices as personal trackers. The pros of cellular device tracking out way the negative buzz that the media portrays about it.
The origin of cellular tracking came from the idea of the doppler system. This was a system developed by a man by the name of
who studied waves hitting a ship on the ocean. While he was studying this he noticed that if the ship was moving in the direction of the waves than the waves hit the ship at a faster rate. After drawing this conclusion he also realized that as the waves hit the ship a wave of equal magnitude bounced of the ship back in the direction of the original wave. When he came to this realization he figured out that he could track the exact location of the ship by how long it took the wave to get back to the origin. This same theory was utilized in the tracking of cellphones. If there happened to be an outgoing or incoming call a cell phone that has service is always in range of three towers. As the towers send and receive the information the amount of time it took for the signal to reach the phone was


recorded. Based on the three towers they could triangulate the whereabouts of the cellular device.
The only problem with this is that tracking could only occur if the cell phone was on and there was a call being completed.

This type of tracking is often used in Hollywood because of the suspense that it creates.

The real life application of this service is very impractical because of how long it takes to complete the track. How it works is after the call is completed the tracking does not start from the origin of the receiving end instead it starts from the cell tower closest to the calling end.
From that closest tower it has to track its way back to the receiving end. After a general location is identified, the tracker has to select the three closest towers to create the triangulation effect.
This may take upwards of 3­7 minutes based on how far away the call is being made. If the suspect catches on that he or she is being tracked for their where abouts all they have to do is hang up and the track would be incompleted. This was all quickly outdated by a greater vantage point, or satellites.
The use of satellites or GPS quickly outdated triangulation because this service was instantaneous. The original use of GPS was for simple interactive road maps like you would see on your Garmin or TomTom. It was later incorporated into cell phones as they became more multifunctional. Cell phones became able to not only make calls or send messages, but they could also be used as GPS utilizing devices . GPS was better for tracking because “GPS is 3D it gives latitude, longitude, and altitude” (Healey). GPS stands for global positioning sensor,