Child Protection And Mobile Tracking – Pinpointing Mobile Phone Location Does Not Always Have To Have GPS

The requirement to Track Cell Phones, or what’s otherwise known as Trace mobile is recognized for everything from public safety, kid protection, elder care, employee monitoring and even relationship monitoring.  Today, GPS enabled mobile phones are basic equipment, yet GPS signals usually aren’t always available.  When satellite signals are not available, or accuracy is less important than life of the battery, applying Cell-ID is a good substitute to GPS mobile phone tracking.  The location of the mobile phone can be computed by the cell network cell id, which pinpoints the cell tower the phone is using.   By understanding the position of this tower, you may know roughly the spot where the cell phone  might be.  Nonetheless, a tower can cover an enormous area, from a few hundred meters, in high population areas, to several kilometers in lower density zones. For this reason location CellID precision is lower than GPS accuracy. Even so location from CellID still gives you quite a handy substitute.

Another way of Cell Phone Location is Triangulation or Mobile Location Services (MLS).  Cell Tower Triangulation uses signal analysis data to determine the time it takes signals traveling from your phone to a minimum of 3 cell towers to calculate position.

In order to conform to Federal Communications Commission guidelines, cell phone companies must be in a position to deliver authorities with smartphone latitude and longitude to an precision of 50 to 300 meters.   Cell Tower Triangulation isn’t going to always satisfy this requirement.  By way of evaluation, commercially accessible GPS modules can achieve accuracy down to 3-10m.  This depends upon many factors, as GPS signals tend to be particularly weak and are disturbed  by many variables.   With Mobile Location Services (MLS), the GSM cell network provider utilizes triangulation techniques to compute the position of the device, its accuracy is proven to be much worse than that of GPS.  MLS is further impacted by factors similar to  GPS in the sense of the interference affecting signal quality and the density of GSM towers to assist in the triangulation effort.   In remote areas position accuracy may be off as much as a mile.

In general it comes down to what location tracking system is readily available, along with the requirements for accuracy.  Hybrid methods are emerging that use various techniques in tandem to provide best available location given available resources.  It may be important to consider how GPS location software applications handle the data and controls cell phone settings including options of  having real-time monitoring when needed, or preferring to reduce battery use and data transmission.  Generally the application can determine the location with a GPS receiver and transmits the tracking information to a server through a cellular packet data connection. The data connection to the server is usually made using the internet.  How often GPS samples are taken and just how often and by what technique the information is sent to the server impact effectiveness and oftentimes costs.