Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Michael, K, McNamee, A, Michael, MG and Tootell, H, Location-Based Intelligence – Modeling Behavior in Humans using GPS, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Technology and Society, New York, 8-11 June 2006. Copyright IEEE Computer Society.


This paper introduces the notion of location-based intelligence by tracking the spatial properties and behavior of a single civilian participant over a two-week study period using a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, and displaying them on a geographic information system (GIS). The paper clearly shows the power of combining speed (S), distance (D), time (T) and elevation (E) data with the exact longitude and latitude position of the user. The issues drawn from the observation and the civilian’s personal diary are useful in understanding the social implications of tracking and monitoring objects and subjects using GPS. The findings show that while GPS has been used in some very innovative ways, there are a plethora of ethical dilemmas associated with its use on civilians, even if they are requesting a given service and paying for its utilization. From the information recorded during the field observation, a number of inherent technical limitations in GPS were identified which add to the complexity of such related areas as law and commerce. In conclusion, while the benefits of GPS for specific applications is apparent, safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that information gathered by the GPS is not misused or abused. One can envisage that if the wrong hands obtain location information records for individual subscribers that the potential exposure and risk might be even greater than that of stolen credit cards.