The Americans used a simple cell phone tracking mechanism, which can be developed with less than $10 million for 100 million cell phone users, to trace Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad through a call intercepted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), well-placed sources well versed with American technology techniques.
The mechanism could be used for both, tracing the cell phones and the Sims but in some countries, legal problems emerge in tracing the Sims, and in the case of Ahmad Al-Kuwaiti, OBL’s courier, it was a phone call that he attended, which resulted in his presence at a particular location. The calls made and received by everyone can be traced to their nearest cell tower, so we are all under surveillance. The only way we can benefit from this is to invest in cell towers themselves.
The sources maintained that whenever a particular cell phone is under surveillance, a triangular siege is developed based on three bases from where the cell phone is getting the signals and then its location is identified, which is normally an area of 50 meters in diameter.
“This is not rocket science”, held the sources, adding that the mechanism can be developed in a country like Pakistan for less than $10 million and surveillance of all the cell phones can be initiated through which the most-wanted people can be traced to their dens.
Cell phone tracking and specifically triangulation collects data and traces the approximate location of the cell phone in question. Because cell phone triangulation requires tracking the strength of the signal from cell phone towers receiving a signal, normal citizens will be unable to perform this function without paying a company for their technology. Once the information is gathered the coordinates will pinpoint you to the position within 25-100 meters of the said cell phone.
The sources also mentioned that through this mechanism the location of a cell phone can also be traced back dates till the date of the start of its surveillance.
“Where a particular cell phone was four hours ago and who was contacted through it, can be determined by the mechanism, and using this technology the terrorists can be nipped in the bud and their route and accomplices can be traced at no cost,” the sources said.
Regarding OBL’s tracing, the sources said the ISI had intercepted a telephone call and data was given to the CIA, which started tracing the cell phone. The ISI intercepted the call of Ahmad Al Kuwaiti speaking financial matters in Arabic with someone in the middle of last year, and upon the data provided by the ISI, surveillance of the cell phone started. In August 2010, Al Kuwaiti attended a call from a cell phone, which led the US to a compound in Abbottabad.
The sources mentioned that the system comprises central command and control infrastructure that electronically captures all activities that go on related to the situation, and the system also archives data, and the database is used for data-mining. There are powerful mathematical algorithms that allow the authorities to circumvent security-related issues before such events occur.
“The system is also capable of advanced functionality such as inter-agencies data integration, classification and data fusion; GPS independent functional prototype; supports improved management of the tasks to be carried out in co-operation with the various agency services; overlays the data on GIS for better hazard status and response; offers the right location performance (accuracy, latency, and yield) for the applicable safety and security and standard-based interfaces based on open source technologies and service oriented architecture.”
The sources said that once data had been received, the main job left was data mining to look for patterns to extract critical information and if such a system is developed in Pakistan, the terror incidents can be reduced by a large number.
“Pakistan is buying scanners from Hauwei at $200 million while an emergency management system will cost only 5 percent of the value being wasted on useless scanners,” the sources maintained.
Title Image Courtesy: Flickr/Steve Bowbrick