What is Location Tracking?

Location tracking can provide access to a myriad of beneficial location-based services, but it also reveals your location to strangers, companies and cybercriminals. This is the dark side of location tracking.

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Location tracking is a technology that can physically identify a location and track the movement of a person or object. The commonly-used technology for location tracking is GPS, which has become increasingly available in the last few years. GPS utilises timing signals from orbiting satellites based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network. GPS can provide real-time information regarding someone's positioning and store that information for later with these satellites.

Location tracking technologies have become increasingly accessible in recent years. Our mobile phones constantly send out signals to network towers, WiFi, and Bluetooth enabled devices. These signals are then used to locate a user and track their movement. For example, you can follow a lost mobile phone, responders can identify your location during emergencies, and you can find directions to places through Google or Apple Maps.

GPS has massively influenced the development and current implementation of IoT technologies.

Mainly, IoT can collect and monitor large chunks of data, including information about one's health, household and vehicle. Meanwhile, GPS provides the location information for these things. When utilised in unison, GPS and IoT technologies can establish a complete, interconnected network of devices. As noted by IBM, both technologies are crucial to devising self-driving cars and health-related wearable technologies.

While location tracking is convenient, it also poses consequences for us. When you check in our location in social networking apps, you let potential data thieves know about your routine and when your home might be empty. Companies like Google also take advantage of your location to target ads and collect your personal information, sold to other third-party companies. By sharing our location and utilising services that use our location, we are actively putting ourselves at risk of data breaches and the misuse of our personal information.

Given its ubiquitous nature, it will be almost impossible to stop using location tracking technologies completely. Many smartphone apps and other devices will be unusable without location tracking. Despite our concerns, researchers at Stanford suggest that the benefits will likely outweigh the risks for most people. If anything, we can learn to embrace location sharing while also taking the proper steps in keeping our digital footprint to a minimum.

More to Explore:

Here's further advice and resources to support parents and children on this issue:

BEWARE: The Dangers of Location Data

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The importance of geolocation for IoT devices

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How Location Tracking Works

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