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MIT maps wireless users across campus

  1. Nov 4, 2005 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2005 #2
    I would love to go there
     
  4. Nov 4, 2005 #3
    Me too :shy:
    They do a lot of cool things there. Plus, I love Boston.
     
  5. Nov 6, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    It's like the "Marauder's Map" from Harry Potter! :rofl:

    I'm not so sure I'd want them to be able to track me everywhere I went though. But, I guess leaving behind the laptop would solve that. I guess it's not surprising that they know who is connecting from where on a campus, I would have guessed the IT dept would already know that, or at least have access if they had reason to check, but the idea of putting up a map for everyone to see, I'd never agree to that. Well, then again, I have threatened to put tracking collars on research mentors in the past since they never seemed to be in their office when we really needed them for something...now we have a solution to that problem. :biggrin: Except, with the availability of cell phones now, it's really no longer such a big problem. If I go sit in a coffee shop to get some reading done and someone blows up the lab, they can just call my cell phone to tell me not to hurry back. :uhh:

    Are there so few people who aren't connected in some way, shape, or form that they can get accurate estimates of who is where? I mean, what if the map shows there aren't many people in a certain part of campus, so you head over there to study, only to find it's jammed with people who are just reading their books? Or does this only work at a place like MIT where the student population is more tech-oriented than most places?
     
  6. Nov 6, 2005 #5

    Ouabache

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    You caught my curiosity with this one.. So I did a little digging..
    To read more about these Marauder's Maps, this reference at MIT, describes the objectives of this work. It was developed at the SENSEable City Laboratory (where they are grasping the potential of sensors used in an urban environment) at MIT. Here are some cool still shots of their maps.
     
  7. Nov 6, 2005 #6

    Evo

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    I hate to tell you guys this but I sell these systems to businesses that lets them track their employees through their cell phones. The employee has no clue. The employer has a map on their computer that shows every employees location. They can select "geofencing" which is a feature that they can define per employee for when they have strayed out of bounds. For example, they want to know if Moonbear leaves the building. As soon as she leaves, an alarm goes off showing she's left and they can track her. Or if it's someone that drives around town for work, they can input the bounderies and know if they've driven outside of their area.

    It even gets more detailed.

    There is a game called geocaching, ever heard of it?
     
  8. Nov 6, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    All the more reason to not use a company paid-for cell phone! Is that legal if the employee doesn't know they're being tracked? It doesn't sound like it should be.
     
  9. Nov 7, 2005 #8
    What is the resolution of this cell phone tracking system?

    Is it only a radius around the nearest (or most optimal) cell tower or is there some triangulation or GPS involved?

    Another way this could be done - with computers (and this may be the way they did this) - would be to assign IP numbers to different areas of campus (lunch room, library, etc) that contain prefixes which identify the location of each login. I believe, however, that there are ways around this (some sort of anonymous IP resetting or masking technique), plus they can only get so specfic. A better - and much more illegal - way would be to use the network to ping the student's computer and connect with it via some form or fashion and reconfigure the settings in such a way that the user's computer stays on even when the screen is closed. Of course, you'd have to adjust the main server settings to not require "re-authorization" once logged on and the system would have to be able to be run in a passive mode. All that said though, those few modifications made, and you're computer could be a high resolution tracker (like a cell phone that has to ping a tower every so often).

    It would be cooler if they'd aerial survey/map their campus and then have a very detailed overlay of who's where, if you wanted to meet your friends. Simple cameras could count the number of students in a particular area.
     
  10. Nov 7, 2005 #9
    I've heard of that. Sounds fun, actually.
     
  11. Nov 7, 2005 #10

    Evo

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    It's legal. They can put the devices in company vehicles also, that's very common. Most employees know they're tracked, they may not know to what extent.
     
  12. Nov 7, 2005 #11

    Evo

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    It's GPS triangulation, but we use A-GPS (assisted GPS). The handset sends it's approximate location (usually the closest cell tower) to the location server, This speeds the process up tremendously. We use another company's system currently. ActSoft Comet Tracker. This allows real-time location information including street address, speed, and direction of employees. The person doing the tracking has a map on their computer showing positions and it will map historical movements also. They can also track from a Blackberry.

    There are a number of companies that have similar service.

    Here's a link showing what it does. http://www.comettracker.com/workers.html
     
  13. Nov 7, 2005 #12

    Moonbear

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    They can only do this with company-owned phones, right? I mean, if you give them your personal cell phone number so they can reach you in an emergency, they can't just program that in and track you on your personal time, can they? Fortunately, I'm not in the sort of field where I have a need of a company car or phone, but if I were, knowing this, the phone would stay on the desk during my time off. I'd do that anyway. Lunch break is a lunch break...unless you're paying me extra to stay on-call during lunch, the phone stays at the desk...it's none of the employer's business where you go on your break as long as you return fit to work after the break is over.
     
  14. Nov 7, 2005 #13

    Evo

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    They would have to have authority to activate it on your phone, so no, they can't add this to your personal phone.

    Most of the new cell phones coming out are GPS enabled. For example, I can give the Evo Child a new phone and then have this activated on her phone. :biggrin:
     
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