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Lost and Found – Smartphones and the Trifecta of Geo-Location

One would think that the various options that exist to make smartphones Location-aware, from GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) modules to solutions as exotic as GloPos Single-Tower Mobile Triangulation  – would be a great means of reducing Crime in Jamaica, Minority Report (2002) Style.

So it strikes me as odd that the Crime of having and brandishing a smartphone is still liable to get you killed in Jamaica, as was the case with 22-year-old Demar Graham, otherwise known by his Dancehall nom de guerre Copper Cat, who was killed with a single shot to the chest – for a Blackberry. Not really sure if it is worth mentioning that he is the adopted son of singer/songwriter Richie Stephens, but this is indeed true, as the Local Jamaican Media reports.

Now I know of associates and co-workers at my workplace Amazing PC Ltd who speak of doing this for a BB. But when it happens in real life, it makes me realize that there is an imimic connection between Crime and high-end phones, of which Blackberrys are considered to be a much desired inclusion.

Common sense is key: one cannot have such phones in Jamaica in our Economy and merely lay them on the table in plain view, as many Generation Y [aged 17 to 28] are wont to do, profiling them, blissfully unaware of their surroundings and thus painting a target on their chest.

So keeping pertinent records of your Blackberry Serial number, Electronic Serial Number (ESN), International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) and Integrated Circuit (ICCID) is a great if not basic way to start – after having it stolen from you, of course.

But before you get robbed or killed for being a fan of RIM it is somewhat heartening to know few recent development that are soon to come on-stream in Jamaica.

The first is the soon to be implemented MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information), which will make it de rigueur for the CCN (Constabulary Communications Network) to use Geo-Location and Phone calling records to collar criminal suspects or receipt of a warrant. So spoke Senator Daryl Vaz, Minister of Information & Telecommunications on Thursday November 18th 2010.

Most likely, to assure compliance of Customers, Telecom Providers, who have been lazy in their collection of Government of Jamaica Identification in order to register the SIM Card IMSI and Phone instruments IMEI, will have begin making the necessary administrative changes to implement what they should have been doing from the get-go.

Most likely, they may avoid the Government of Mexico’s dramatic threat of the cancellation of nearly twenty six million (26,000,000) Mobile Phone accounts. CLARO is in support of MRSI, as per a Sunday Gleaner article published Sunday May 16, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter.

Digicel and LIME only pay MNP (Mobile Number Portability) lip service, fearing the loss of customers and revenue that would result, as MRSI is indeed a precursor to MNP. The added pressure of the obvious connection between Crime and the proliferation of easy access to Mobile Phone instruments and SIM cards is against the Telecom Providers.

Ditto too, as the Americans and their Law Enforcement, who have been for some time pushing for MRSI, finally got their big break when it was demonstrated that unregistered phones could be used by terrorists to stage a car bombing in the New York. The failed bombing plot in New York Time Square by alleged bomb plotter, Faisal Shahzad made the introduction of MRSI all that more easier.

MRSI, like the JAMPRO-MonaGIS powered Interactive Investment Map, has other spin-of applications, mainly connected to Geo-Location based advertising.

MRSI, like the JAMPRO-MonaGIS powered Interactive Investment Map, has other spin-of applications, mainly connected to Geo-Location based advertising. One of them is in the Lost and Found Department of electronics good and gadgets, the theft of which may be related to the Cash-for-Gold Trade.

MRSI would place ownership – and responsibility – backed up by Government Identification of these stolen goods in the hands of the customer, much as is currently the case with Motor Vehicles. Not only that, as most of these smartphones, such the Apple iPhone, Blackberry and the various Android phones out in the wild such as Motorola Milestone or the Samsung Galaxy S, now being retailed by Digicel have GPS, so this is desirable.

MNP may be coming a lot sooner than most Telecom Provider expect though, as Jamaica has utilized seven million (7,000,000) of our allotted eight million (8,000,000) number ranges assigned since Liberalization of the Telecoms Sector by the then Opposition Minister of Technology and ICT, Senator Phillip Paulwell.

This Liberalization occurred in 1997 and with it came two (2) new major entrants into the Telecom Space, Digicel and MiPhone. Now, a decade on and Miphone, now Mexican-owned and rebranded CLARO, Jamaica has, by virtue of mismanagement and competitive strategies, used them all up with only a million (1,000,000) numbers to spare.

This according to the OUR (Office of Utility Regulations), which has been mandated by the NANP (North American Numbering Plan), the original granter of number ranges, to demonstrate that the previously granted number ranges that were given to the Telecom Providers were being used efficiently.

As that was, from anecdotal evidence, clearly not the case, MNP is actually a greater possibility than MRSI, being a necessity for the long term viability of the Telecoms Providers than MNP, compliance to which is being legislated on them. MNP means for the customer, lower instrument costs, and possibly the coming of Flat Rate Calling.

With Senator Phillip Paulwell pushing for MNP despite his party, the People’s National Party) being in Opposition, the pressure is truly on the Telecom Providers to implement MNP.

Especially as the general public here in Jamaica is becoming aware of the power of Geo-Location to track down your lost smartphone using, in some cases, apps that can triangulate your Mobile phones locations using SMS when lost. Your phone does not even have to have a GPS module built in, just be a regular GSM Phone.

Fears of an Orwellian Society a la 1984 conjure up a dark spectre in the minds of Jamaicans, wary of police excess and stories of unexplained and unpunished extra-judicial killings make many Jamaicans and Americans, who don’t like being tracked anyway, wary of Geo-Location.

Many Jamaicans, too are wary of the now subdued Crime monster but are naturally on the fence about Geo-Location, as it goes a bit to far to be comfortable for any Jamaican to accept that less of privacy in exchange for the eradication of Crime.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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2 Responses to "Lost and Found – Smartphones and the Trifecta of Geo-Location"

  1. CS says:

    In the US a Phone number is registered to a person and then becomes there own. They can take it to any provider or release as they so choose. Maybe that would help with the issue of numbers running out.

    Also any phone can be used for a bomb registered or not it could be freshly stolen and used within in 5mins or in the time one needs to plug it in and get out of range.

  2. CS, this is what MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information) is all about: registering people. MRSI is a precursor to MNP (Mobile number Portability) as you have described

    http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2010/11/mrsi-and-mnp-where-spies-are.html

    http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2010/05/mnp-and-mrsi-how-it-leads-to-mobile.html

    The point of registration is that it establishes ownership. Thus the person who would allow their phone to be stolen is just as culpable and the bomber in much the same way a man who has his car stolen and used to commit a crime is just as culpable to a robbery performed with the car.

    In fact, if a car and later on a phone when MRSI is implemented is stolen, you the owner can be also charged as an accomplice, as you must now give evidence to explain how your registered phone, which is your responsibility, ended up in the hands of the thief/bomber

    As even the act or reporting a stolen item must be accompanies by proof of not only ownership of said stolen item to aid recovery but an account of how the item was stolen. Otherwise, th authorities can assume that you are an accomplice and that you willingly aided him in committing said crime.

    Too many phones in Jamaica are unregistered. MRSI and then MNP would solve this in the long term by making phone ownership as important as owning a motor vehicle or a registered firearm.

    You privacy is preserved as under MRSI, they can only track your location to which you have no reasonable right to privacy, being as Telecom Provider’s track you anyway. Additionally, this service by the authorities requires a subpoena for the phone records as well as a warrant
    to execute request and search of phone records, bot past phone records as well as access to live tracking information.

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