Tracking human habits.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mobile phones expose human habits
The whereabouts of more than 100,000 mobile phone users have been tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements.

The study concludes that humans are creatures of habit, mostly visiting the same few spots time and time again.
Location data is increasingly used by forensic scientists to identify the movements of criminal suspects.

For example, the technique was used by Italian police to capture Hussain Osman, one of four men jailed for the failed suicide bombings in London on 21 July.

Commercial products also exist, allowing parents to track children or for friends to receive alerts when they are in a similar location.

These types of services and projects will continue to grow, Dr Webb believes, as researchers and businesses find new ways to use the mobile phone networks.

"There are so many sensors that you could conceivably attach to a phone that you could do all kinds of monitoring activities with," he said.

For example, Nokia have put forward an idea to attach sensors to phones that could report back on air quality. The project would allow a large location-specific database to be built very quickly.

Ofcom is also planning to use mobiles to collect data about the quality of wi-fi connections around the UK.

"I am sure there will be tens if not hundreds of these ideas emerging over the next few years," said Dr Webb.
...oh, goodie. :rolleyes: Hundreds - of entirely new ideas about market analysis, behavioural science and security enhancements. From research taken off data provided by mobile operators, without the user's consent. Due to that the information is not, in the end, personal or private. Really, really promising use of tech, isn't it..


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I read this story this morning. I can't honestly see how this can be legal. They have to have told the users at some point right? Then I'm assuming they wanted to get patterns of when people talked. Well probably any of us can answer that, while driving, while out, and while at home - DUH


,,l,, //_- ,,l,,
considering a growing majority of cell phone users are teens-early 30's theres no doubt that most of thier subjects constantly visit the same place. (work school etc.)
Right. ..No, I heard about talk from some project chief that this was "finally a way to study human behaviour objectively", and they hoped more mobile operators would follow this one's example (I don't know who they're talking about, apart from that it's an american operator... the name apparently wasn't made official, and the article I read suggested that no one of the people involved knew they were being used this way).

Anyway - but I mean.. I don't have my cell- phone with me all day. Nor is it turned on all the time. much for objective. But this could of course give people data on where people walk by in a city, and where the most walked past places in a mall is - hence more effective bill- boards.

And I know this wouldn't be legal in Norway, for example, without the consent of every individual involved - neither is it possible for a mobile operator to smuggle in a clause in their rules that allow for something like this. It's possible to use active programs that use cell- data and store it (for example on your phone, for your user, or transmit positions to other people) - but not to sweep up data like this from a mobile operator. That's confidential (it's the same in the US - the telecoms are supposed to protect that data according to the Telecommunications act, on the pain of losing their commission, apparently).

..But it's strange how this "mobile phone fitted with marketing analysis software" turns up again now. I heard about this idea before when Android turned up - that this was what they were going to do to finance it - sell patterns like this to number- crunchers for marketing purposes.
Hehe. And you suddenly realise why the operator can deliver so cheap prices..

No, actually that's the point - the companies are legally precluded from entering into a deal like that, without breaking the framework that allows them to operate. People would probably have standing to sue.