India, being a well-known hub for wireless communications, is also known to have the second largest wireless network subscriber base in the world. A mobile network presents both opportunities and risks. Opportunities are good in all terms but when it comes to risks like terrorist attacks or any criminal activities that is executed using cell phones, then the government and we need to think about preventing such disasters in the future.
We can eliminate such mishaps if the Indian telecom operator’s start implementing the May 2011 mandate on tracking of mobile phones.
LBS brings high accuracy geographical knowledge about the position of a cell phone or mobile device to provide services to security agencies, law enforcement agencies as well as to the location based application companies. The service monitors security of the public considering legal, ethical, social and technological momentum issues involved. Other services considered are such as navigation assistance, map assistance, locating the situation or a person in case of emergency or disaster relief etc. It can be implemented either in 2G, 3G or upcoming 4G mobile network. Gartner predicts that LBS user base will grow globally from 96 million in 2009 to more than 526 million in 2012.
India’s Department Of Telecommunications (DoT) adopted a mandate for location-based systems in May 2011, prompting wireless operators to begin evaluating location solutions. The deadline given by DoT for implementing it was May 31st, 2012. It is a very important step taken forward by the government for the security and safety of the public especially in terms of terrorist attack like what we faced on 26 November, 2008 in Taj Mahal hotel (Mumbai) where five cell phones were used to execute the plan.
If we go back and see United States, the availability of LBS with high accuracy location for the public safety was more evident. United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) came up with Enhanced 911 (E911) where people got an easy access to call at the time of emergency. The Indian DoT mandate is lower than the one adopted by the FCC seventeen years ago. India faces pressure by low-accuracy location solution providers which will weaken its May 2011 DoT mandate on wireless location accuracy. Therefore it is important to understand the evolution of location technology alongside public safety anywhere in the world. If FCC had adapted LBS seventeen years ago, it is now the turn of the Indian government to look at the improvements in devices, technologies and policies they make. The Government needs to concentrate on public safety and the emergency situations which India can face in future.
The evolution of LBS mandate in US
In US Emergency calling (911) began in 1968. With the growth of mobile phones adoption the FCC urged the need to safety for telecommunications when they first adopted an Enhanced 911 (E911) location mandate (‘Phase I’) in 1995. This law made it clear that all wireless network operators must identify the phone number and cell phone tower used by the emergency callers within six minutes of a request by a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
A second phase of Enhanced 911 (Phase II) service was issued in October 2010 which allowed a wireless or mobile telephone to be located accurately. It was made mandate for wireless network operators to provide the latitude and longitude of callers within 300 meters, within six minutes of a request by a PSAP. Emergency services have been the primary drivers for increase in the uptake of other categories of services based on location information in countries like USA and Japan.
Why DoT should make LBS mandatory in India
The DoT should implement the May 2011 mandate on LBS seriously as the government’s most important role is to protect its citizens from all the possible threats, disasters and dangerous situations. Some of the reasons are as follows:
· National security:
After Mumbai attacks the safety and its awareness has become a priority in India. GPS and its function is known to everyone but it cannot be used for wider range areas. LBS can be used for immigration and Visa control applications, border and transport security, domestic counter attacks, intelligence warning and gathering, emergency preparedness and response.
· LBS for crime control
Criminal activities can be controlled by integrating LBS. This is a main focus area given by countries like US and Japan. LBS can offer tremendous benefits for the safety area, for example, tracking the location of a person who needs urgent help, or catching a criminal. In the case of emergency calls (e.g. robbery, hostage, murder, etc.) it is obvious that if there is any call made or if 911 is dialed then call responders have information concerning the location to reach immediately. Map Asia 2003 survey showed that two-third safety and security issues like emergency calls i.e. robbery, murder, and theft etc can be easily & accurately mapped out through LBS.
· LBS and citizens
LBS can help citizens to carefully manage their livelihood. As we are aware of the crimes and how it’s increasing day by day, if we have an access to LBS we can do the following to avoid crimes around us.
– Citizens can send criminal warning message to police
– From a particular area the citizen is residing, he/she can get SMS alerts.
– Can know the nearest police station
– Can get or send data’s/photos ( any other information) of criminals to police
· LBS as Enterprise Services
When it comes to enterprise services, LBS can be helpful to enable firms who are into fleet and asset tracking, field service dispatching, route and delivery optimization, and mobile workforce management.
How we could have reacted for Mumbai attack if we had LBS
If we had high accuracy Location Based Service at the time of Mumbai terrorist attack, the outcome for result and investigation would have been different. When the authorities would have got the warnings of such attack they could have deployed geo –fence (a virtual perimeter) around the hotel, sea or city borders. It would have helped authorities to track down the movements and identify the terrorists easily who were continuously in touch with each other through cell phones. They could have also pinpointed the cellular phones of guests who were inside the hotel to further track the terrorists. Investigators could have used high accuracy location technology incorporated with voice intercept through which they could have heard the calls and would have known the intentions of the terrorists.
LBS is attainable
Location based Services (LBS) promise to bring a very bright future considering all aspects of key technologies required to operate the LBS is available in the market. We cannot deny the dynamic growth of mobile environment in India and also the technologies and other resources that are available. The quality of service levels are changing incessantly. In US, LBS were welcomed seventeen years ago with mandate E911. We can attain the software and technologies available around the world. Delaying or postponing the DoT’s May 2011 mandate could cost life of people and also economy if some mishap happens in the future. Therefore it is important to accept the mandate and open the doors for LBS implementation in India.