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How DCI & telcos locate Kenyans even when phone GPS & data are off

Security agencies and telcos can harness technology to obtain your location for various purposes.

An AI generated image of people using their phones

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital technology, the ability to pinpoint someone's location has become a crucial tool for law enforcement like DCI and telecommunications companies alike.

One method that stands out is cell tower triangulation, allowing authorities to track individuals even in the absence of GPS or mobile phone data.

Cell towers are the backbone of our mobile communication network, strategically placed to ensure seamless coverage.

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These towering structures facilitate communication between mobile phones and the network, enabling users to make calls, send texts, and access the internet.

Each tower serves a specific geographical area, and when a phone connects to the network, it establishes a communication link with the nearest tower.

Triangulation, in this context, involves using signals from multiple cell towers to determine the precise location of a mobile device.

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The process relies on the time it takes for signals to travel between the phone and the towers.

By measuring the distance between the device and each tower, a mathematical algorithm can pinpoint the location where the distances intersect – revealing the user's exact coordinates.

Law enforcement agencies leverage this technology to track down individuals involved in criminal activities, locate missing persons, or gather evidence in ongoing investigations.

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Similarly, telecommunications companies employ cell tower triangulation for network optimization and maintenance, ensuring a seamless user experience.

Despite its effectiveness, cell tower triangulation has its limitations. The accuracy of location data depends on factors such as the density of cell towers, environmental conditions, and the type of mobile device.

In densely populated urban areas with numerous towers, the precision can be as high as a few meters. However, in rural or remote locations with fewer towers, the accuracy may decrease significantly.

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It's essential to note that while cell tower triangulation is a powerful tool, privacy concerns have sparked debates on its ethical usage.

Striking a balance between public safety and individual privacy remains a challenge for regulators and technology companies.

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