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By Brian Varano, Director of Marketing, TruePosition

There are currently more than five billion mobile connections around the world. The mobile phone began as a communications device – as simple means to connect people through voice calls and SMS messaging. The success of mobile communications stems from the sheer convenience, flexibility, freedom and productivity enhancements that mobility offers. The capabilities of mobile devices continue to evolve as they become more and more integral to our everyday lives.

Mobile devices have been a runaway success and added significant value to the lives of billions of people. Despite this, we must also acknowledge that over the past few years mobile communications have been used by the criminal underworld to plan and execute illegal activity. The freedom and convenience of the mobile device is being used by radical groups including political extremists, smugglers, terrorists, kidnappers and drug dealers to conduct illegal activity, often causing substantial harm to innocent people.

Mission critical mobile location technology – a valuable weapon in itself

Over the past few years, terrorist attacks in global cities including Madrid and Mumbai were coordinated by perpetrators using mobile phones. In the case of Madrid, the devices were used as detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). While call detail records (CDRs) can be used by police and security agencies to investigate mobile usage patterns, traced to specific users, they can only go so far. One significant drawback that these organisations face is the inability to specify the exact location of certain mobile phones at any one time and their vicinity to other suspicious devices.

With the arrival of mission critical mobile location technology, the capability to extract this information now exists. Determining the location of specific, suspicious devices and their interaction with other phones has the potential to radically improve the rates of success. This type of technology can identify the numbers of devices used to detonate explosive devices, provide valuable insight in to attack planning as well as provide intelligence on the groups of people linked to incidents through communication patterns. Many of the answers lie in analysing data that exists in the mobile network.

The information is in the network

The behaviour of criminals and their associates can be closely scrutinised by analysing location information and data available through their mobile phones and usage patterns. This includes not only the behaviour of specific individuals, but also those people they come in to contact with. Location technology within the mobile network can identify and provide law enforcement officials with data regarding who suspicious individuals are speaking with, who they send messages to, even identify when mobile devices are switched on or off. This information is then tracked against key identifiers including the mobile phone being used, the SIM card identifier, and the user’s phone number. This technique ensures that a mobile phone can be tracked effectively even if the SIM card is switched to multiple phones, which is a common practice in the planning and execution of illegal activity.

By combining this data, law enforcement officials can build detailed intelligence models and generate insightful profiles on the behavioural patterns of suspects. This data can then be further mined to reveal specific behaviours and conditions. For instance, they can search mobile call traffic patterns and associations, location proximity of multiple devices or to events and ascertain location behaviour over time.

High accuracy is paramount

Mobile phone location technology is not a new phenomenon. Consumer applications such as Four Square and Google Maps are commonplace on many of the latest smartphones. Other mobile local search applicati

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