Locating a Phone

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

I am developing an information service which will use SMS as the user
interface. It would be very helpful if I were able to locate the phone
sending SMS requests to the service. I don't need GPS-like accuracy. Rather,
I would be perfectly happy simply being able to determine the location of
the cell cite which relayed the message.

Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a complete GSM newbie.
11 answers Last reply
More about locating phone
  1. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Greg Young" <progsoln@comcast.net> wrote in message
    news:IZWdnSBxMOhoOFndRVn-hQ@comcast.com...
    > I am developing an information service which will use SMS as the user
    > interface. It would be very helpful if I were able to locate the phone
    > sending SMS requests to the service. I don't need GPS-like accuracy.
    Rather,
    > I would be perfectly happy simply being able to determine the location of
    > the cell cite which relayed the message.
    >
    > Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a complete GSM
    newbie.

    Good luck. You should probably look into selling your service to the
    carriers. They are the only ones who will be able to locate their customers.

    --
    Donald Newcomb
    DRNewcomb (at) attglobal (dot) net
  2. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Greg Young" wrote:

    > I am developing an information service which will use SMS as
    > the user interface. It would be very helpful if I were able to
    > locate the phone sending SMS requests to the service. I don't
    > need GPS-like accuracy. Rather, I would be perfectly happy
    > simply being able to determine the location of the cell cite
    > which relayed the message.
    >
    > Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a
    > complete GSM newbie.

    If I've understood you correctly, you're trying to determine the
    location of other people's phones, not trying to establish your
    own position.

    This would require programming on the phones being located.
    There are at least two ways of achieving this.

    The simplest by far to implement would be to have these phones
    running AT commands, sent and interpreted by a processor (a PC
    or stand-alone microprocessor) connected to the phone by a
    serial connection (normally a serial cable, but Bluetooth and
    IrDA are other possibilities). That processor could read the
    incoming SMS, get certain info from the phone, and send a reply.

    The other way would be to program the phone with a SIM
    Application Toolkit (STK) application. In practice this would
    prove very difficult, as SIM security normally prevents STK
    applications being loaded except by a carrier.

    Information you *might* be able to retrieve includes the ID of
    the current network operator (this changes when roaming), the
    Location Area Code, cell ID (numeric), cell geographical name
    (if it's being broadcast), signal strength (can be a rough
    distance indicator), last Timing Advance (TA) value used
    (distance to cell to within 550 metres accuracy), and Network
    Measurement Results (NMR).

    I know you can get NMR from Siemens phones. This gives the BCCHs
    and signal strengths of the 6 strongest neighbouring cells. And
    this in turn can sometimes be used to derive surprisingly good
    positional information.

    Note that the cell ID retrieved would be that of the cell the
    phone's currently camped on, and not necessarily that of the
    cell used to relay any SMS. So it might not relate to any
    retrieved TA value either.

    John
  3. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Mon, 7 Jun 2004 10:29:26 -0700, "Greg Young" <progsoln@comcast.net>
    wrote:

    >I am developing an information service which will use SMS as the user
    >interface. It would be very helpful if I were able to locate the phone
    >sending SMS requests to the service. I don't need GPS-like accuracy. Rather,
    >I would be perfectly happy simply being able to determine the location of
    >the cell cite which relayed the message.
    >
    >Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a complete GSM newbie.
    >
    I think it is possible but for the carriers
    Some of them in Europe offer service for parents (or spouses etc)
    which is similar to your idea.
    All what you need is register phone (has to be on your name) and send
    sms to activate service (they dont want you to check on everybody)
    Later you need to send sms (specialy formated) to service provider
    and they will send you sms with approx. location of the "followed"
    phone. It is not very accurate but let you know if your kid is in the
    school or not. Accuracy about 100-200 meters
    Sorry for my english
    Darek
  4. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    Thanks for the replies, but I think you've overestimated the problem. The
    service I have in mind is simple : A (hopefully anonymous) person could send
    a request via SMS to my application running on a server. As an example, this
    request might be for the location of Starbucks in the area. Rather than the
    user having to supply a location in addition to the request for the
    Starbuck's locations, the location would be determined approximately by the
    location of the cell site which received the original SMS packet. I have no
    dreams of triangulating there position - I simply want to know what cell
    site received the original packet and convert this to a physical location.

    Is this acheivable in a generic sense (any phone capable of sending SMS)?

    For what little I've read, I believe this is doable with a custom
    application on the phone. The application would take in a command (similar
    to composing a text message for SMS), append to this cell information from
    GSM and send the packet to my application. A generic solution would be
    clearly better, but even this would be acceptable.
  5. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Mon, 07 Jun 2004 10:29:26 -0700, Greg Young wrote:

    > I am developing an information service which will use SMS as the user
    > interface.

    Certain airtime providers already offer such a service. Like Vodafone
    UK's "Find Me".

    > It would be very helpful if I were able to locate the phone
    > sending SMS requests to the service. I don't need GPS-like accuracy.
    > Rather, I would be perfectly happy simply being able to determine the
    > location of the cell cite which relayed the message.

    Which is exactly how the above mentioned Vodafone UK service works. But
    usually it's not very accurate, i.e. upto 10 miles out. But then I spend a
    lot of time in the countryside. I suppose in places like London, Paris or
    New York City it may work a bit better.

    > Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a complete GSM
    > newbie.

    I think you may be biting off a bit more than you can chew. However if you
    can develop something that's a bit more accurate than Vodafone's effort, I
    may be interested.

    --
    Michael Turner

    Email (ROT13)

    zvxr.gheare1963@ivetva.arg
  6. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Tue, 08 Jun 2004 05:09:22 +0000, darek wrote:

    > I think it is possible but for the carriers Some of them in Europe offer
    > service for parents (or spouses etc) which is similar to your idea.
    > All what you need is register phone (has to be on your name) and send sms
    > to activate service (they dont want you to check on everybody) Later you
    > need to send sms (specialy formated) to service provider and they will
    > send you sms with approx. location of the "followed" phone. It is not very
    > accurate but let you know if your kid is in the school or not. Accuracy
    > about 100-200 meters Sorry for my english
    > Darek

    100-200 metres ? What service provides that ? That's a hell of a lot more
    accuracy than I get out of Vodafone Live ... which only seems to be
    accurate to within a few miles.

    --
    Michael Turner

    Email (ROT13)

    zvxr.gheare1963@ivetva.arg
  7. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Tue, 08 Jun 2004 05:09:22 GMT, darek <gap@optimum.com> wrote:

    >On Mon, 7 Jun 2004 10:29:26 -0700, "Greg Young" <progsoln@comcast.net>
    >wrote:
    >
    >>I am developing an information service which will use SMS as the user
    >>interface. It would be very helpful if I were able to locate the phone
    >>sending SMS requests to the service. I don't need GPS-like accuracy. Rather,
    >>I would be perfectly happy simply being able to determine the location of
    >>the cell cite which relayed the message.
    >>
    >>Is this possible? Any suggestion would be help as I'm a complete GSM newbie.
    >>
    >I think it is possible but for the carriers
    That is correct. The basic timing advance and antenna selection at the
    BTS give you accuracy that is roughly a circle 1 km in Kilometer.

    It is possible to do much better, but that comes from very accurate
    signal timing measurements at 2 or more BTS's. That isn't all the
    hard to do at the BTS, but if don't have contorl of a BTS, forget it!!
    >Some of them in Europe offer service for parents (or spouses etc)
    >which is similar to your idea.
    >All what you need is register phone (has to be on your name) and send
    >sms to activate service (they dont want you to check on everybody)
    >Later you need to send sms (specialy formated) to service provider
    >and they will send you sms with approx. location of the "followed"
    >phone. It is not very accurate but let you know if your kid is in the
    >school or not. Accuracy about 100-200 meters
    >Sorry for my english
    >Darek
    >
  8. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    Already exists and in use in Estonia

    Provided by http://www.reach-u.com/


    "Greg Young" <progsoln@comcast.net> wrote in message
    news:IaqdncNHxNHTQljdRVn-ug@comcast.com...
    > Thanks for the replies, but I think you've overestimated the problem. The
    > service I have in mind is simple : A (hopefully anonymous) person could
    send
    > a request via SMS to my application running on a server. As an example,
    this
    > request might be for the location of Starbucks in the area. Rather than
    the
    > user having to supply a location in addition to the request for the
    > Starbuck's locations, the location would be determined approximately by
    the
    > location of the cell site which received the original SMS packet. I have
    no
    > dreams of triangulating there position - I simply want to know what cell
    > site received the original packet and convert this to a physical location.
    >
    > Is this acheivable in a generic sense (any phone capable of sending SMS)?
    >
    > For what little I've read, I believe this is doable with a custom
    > application on the phone. The application would take in a command (similar
    > to composing a text message for SMS), append to this cell information from
    > GSM and send the packet to my application. A generic solution would be
    > clearly better, but even this would be acceptable.
    >
    >
  9. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Tue, 08 Jun 2004 14:50:49 +0100, michael turner
    <zvxr.gheare1963@ivetva.arg> wrote:

    >within a few miles.
    ERA in Poland (tmobile owns them)
    in my opinion accuracy depends on how many towers is in
    a location (location can be calculated easier)
    by the way it works very cool
    they send you message with address
    like: subscriber is on a corner of the streets..
  10. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Greg Young" wrote:

    > Thanks for the replies, but I think you've overestimated the
    > problem. The service I have in mind is simple : A (hopefully
    > anonymous) person could send a request via SMS to my
    > application running on a server. As an example, this request
    > might be for the location of Starbucks in the area. Rather than
    > the user having to supply a location in addition to the request
    > for the Starbuck's locations, the location would be determined
    > approximately by the location of the cell site which received
    > the original SMS packet. I have no dreams of triangulating
    > there position - I simply want to know what cell site received
    > the original packet and convert this to a physical location.
    >
    > Is this acheivable in a generic sense (any phone capable of
    > sending SMS)?
    >
    > For what little I've read, I believe this is doable with a
    > custom application on the phone. The application would take in
    > a command (similar to composing a text message for SMS), append
    > to this cell information from GSM and send the packet to my
    > application. A generic solution would be clearly better, but
    > even this would be acceptable.

    As you've described it, this sounds like a feasible SIM
    Application Toolkit (STK) implementation. You'd need to work
    with the carriers though, as they'd need to download your STK
    application to participating (compliant) handsets. GSM 11.14 is
    the applicable GSM technical specification. You can download a
    PDF copy (after registering) from www.etsi.org.

    John
  11. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "matt weber" <mattheww50@cox.net> wrote in message
    news:u3vcc0596a33prcmtl6jvod4223gavnpmk@4ax.com...
    > It is possible to do much better, but that comes from very accurate
    > signal timing measurements at 2 or more BTS's. That isn't all the
    > hard to do at the BTS, but if don't have contorl of a BTS, forget it!!

    Not to forget the MS as well - currentl MS is designed to talk to one BTS at
    a time.
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