Saturday, December 26, 2020

First day of Ontario's province-wide lockdown

As Ontario enters a 2nd province-wide lockdown, there seem to be differences when compared to the 1st lockdown in March.

Some constant tracking of cell phone locations suggests that not many people are indeed staying home. It seems that people these days are more unconcerned about the rising numbers of Coronavirus Covid-19 cases.

People are being encouraged to reduce line-ups and crowds.

Mobile phone tracking is a process for identifying the location of a mobile phone, whether stationary or moving. Localization may be effected by a number of technologies, such as using multilateration of radio signals between (several) cell towers of the network and the phone, or simply using GPS. To locate a mobile phone using multilateration of mobile radio signals, it must emit at least the idle signal to contact nearby antenna towers, but the process does not require an active call. The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is based on the phone's signal strength to certain nearby antenna masts.

Mobile positioning may be used for location-based services that disclose the actual coordinates of a mobile phone. Telecommunication companies use this to approximate the location of a mobile phone, and thereby also its user.

The important technology of locating is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a powered mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations, so knowledge of the location of the base station implies the cell phone is nearby.

It seems that advanced systems determine the sector in which the mobile phone is located and roughly estimate also the distance to the base station. Further approximation can be done by interpolating signals between adjacent antenna towers. Qualified services may achieve a precision of down to 50 meters in urban areas where mobile traffic and density of antenna towers (base stations) is sufficiently high. Rural and desolate areas may see miles between base stations and therefore determine locations less precisely (the person could be within a greater meter radius).

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