Shopping centre uses mobile phone data to "monitor visitor levels"

James Firth james2 at
Wed Aug 24 16:18:21 BST 2011

Chris Edwards:
> Yep.  This is old news, and as I understand it, only works for 2G
> (GSM).
> Anyone using 3G (UMTS) can't be tracked so easily.
> OK, you may not get a 3G signal in all the places you'd like, but
> "malls" are
> often pretty well covered...

Something's bothering me - having worked in system design of GSM-related
tech (TETRA) I don't remember many circumstances where polling TXs from the
subscriber would be frequent-enough for real time monitoring in a small
geographic area like a shopping arcade. (It's 6 years since I last worked in
this area, mind).

Reading the blurb from Path Intelligence it reads to me on first scan as
though some kind of signature is being cribbed from the subscriber-base
station comms.  Given prevalence of always-on data for apps such as instant
messenger, social media etc and the large amount of polling and/or open
TCP/IP sessions this would make signature tracking more realistic.

I could be wrong in the above assumption, but if I'm right, I can't see how
this can legally be done without the consent of the network operator (IANAL,
personal opinion, etc).  If it is done in collusion with the networks, then
surely a local pico/femto-cell could be used to provide: (i) universal
indoor coverage; and, (ii) legal tracking...


James Firth

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