Location-Based Tracking Essay Paper 8 pages

Location-Based Tracking

Smart phones are among the latest technological devices in this 21st century. They are smart devices because they come with numerous applications most of which are versions of the computer. In addition, they integrate features earlier witnessed in disparate devices. This paper examines location-based tracking services, which is among the feature of smart phones, performed by various applications. Using adequate information from materials, the paper will discuss at length the various ways these applications can assist parents track their children, individuals track their vehicles and the general perception towards this technology. In addition, the paper will offer my personal view regarding location-based tracking devices because I also use them on my phone.


Location-based tracking is a service that utilizes a network-based service, which combines a mobile devices location or position with other relevant information to offer a benefit to the consumer or the user. Supported by advanced wireless communication technology, and the broad use of smart phones, this service has become a global feature. The popularization of smart phones is the main cause of the global usage of a variety of location-based tracking services, which come in the form of applications. In the earlier mobile phones, they had fewer functions and this is why they were “feature phones,” the tracking services comprised of simple location-tracking services.

In smart phones, however, have a completely advanced tracking service, owing to their powerful operating systems and a variety of applications. In addition, there has been the emergence of LBS applications with various business models, which has led to the combination of location-based tracking services and social networking services (SNS). Moreover, the rapid technological advancement in this field has led to the emergence of location-based advertisements, which have led to the emergence of location-based commerce; an improved version of mobile commerce. Currently, mobile information services, which include portals, maps, SNS, online yellow pages and many others, provide relevant information as per the request of the user, central to the user’s location information (Park et al., 2012).

Owing to these benefits, and many relevant uses of tracking and information services, the LBS are achieving a global acceptance. However, the growths of the location-based tracking services, and progress in technology, have raised global privacy concerns primarily because some people may abuse local information. Therefore, some companies have created some user-friendly technological aspects; when they develop their applications such as opt-in, do-not-track, and controllability of GPS. This has greatly decreased the potential risk on privacy concerns, which was a big challenge because it is hard for users to control their location information, especially when the relevant companies have already gathered and stored such information.

Overall, it is apparent that the use of location-based applications, especially those with location tracking, is a global phenomenon, which has positive and negative impacts. Unlike earlier mobile phones (feature phones), many smart phones have powerful operating systems, and evolving tools that have made application-development easy. Therefore, the applications have made the smart phones powerful devices, which allow the completion of different tasks on a single device. For instance, the “feature phones” fell under the category of disparate tools such as PDAS, wireless notebooks, portable GPS, auto navigators, and cell phones, the current smart phones have the capacity to support all their functions through the various applications.

Location-based service apps

My smart phone has a variety of applications, which I find interesting. In any case, they are of great essence in my life. Some of them help in accomplishing simple tasks, especially when I am busy. For instance, I do not have to scan my smart phone; I just use an application, which has the capacity to schedule the scanning process (Weiss, 2013). However, in the context of location-based tracking, my phone currently holds seven popular applications. They are Gowalla, Whrrl, and Rally Up, BlockChalk, Brightkite, Loopt and MoPho.to. They are all location-based applications, but they have slight differences when it comes to their functionality. MoPho.to uses photos, which I can share to anyone with a geo-location tag. The photo serves as my check in specific locations.

Loopt is a location-based application; this one does not rely on check-ins, but it shows my exact position on a map relative to a friend’s position, and the facilities near my location. Brigthkite is an original location-based check-in application, which I use to publicly checking in and sharing a location. Notably, this application switches to a location-based text message, which I can send to a number of selected friends. BlockChalk is an application, which I find quite interesting to use because it allows me to leave an anonymous message. In addition, it allows me to share messages to friends and family, ask, answer, report, prevent, borrow, or trade with people in my neighborhood. Rally Up is an application designed only for real friends, and it allows me to alert my friends whenever I am on the way to their place, or whenever we have planned to go out.

Whrrl is a map-based application that allows me to look around my area and find people or places in my area. Gowalla is an application, which utilizes some of Foursquare’s concepts. This application uses “passport stamps” that a user collects or shares when they check-in to different locations. Once I check-in, I can share my location on social media, making it have a similarity with the popular Foursquare application, but it comes with an added feature such as photo integration. Owing to the cheap internet, I am a frequent internet user, whenever I am online; I use the applications for various purposes and reasons. When we plan to go out with a couple of friends, we notify each other through the internet, which is cheap and reaches a large group of people, simultaneously.

The applications also help me find locations on a map, local weather reports, find local restaurants, seek local information and news, get information on traffic or public transportation when am going to college. In addition, I just found out that the applications are significant and cheap business tools. When you shop online, you are likely to get discounts, large discounts for that matter (Weiss, 2013). Therefore, I have and still conducting some business through the applications. Recently, I purchased a laptop at a very good deal; the local businessperson, delivered the laptop at my doorstep. Most importantly, I am a football fan; these applications help me check the latest news concerning football, an aspect that has made me very “smart” in global football.

The Privacy Policy

Privacy policies refer to the legal notices, which contain statements what service providers can do with their users’ personal information. Owing to the different applications that offer a variety of services, the privacy policies are also different. The service providers publish them, but users make the ultimate decision on whether the policies are acceptable for their use. In addition, the privacy policies refer to numerous concepts and the service providers use a variety of particular languages to define their policies. Users make an agreement with the service providers concerning the information to collect and the purpose of collecting (Yun, Han and Lee, 2013).

In addition, the service providers notify users how they will use and distribute their personal information to third parties. In this kind of context, the privacy policy is understood as the capacity of the individuals or users to decide when, what, and how their personal information should be disclosed to third parties. Most importantly, users can select among a variety of privacy policies. Therefore, depending on the chosen policy, users can save their money, but the service providers can distribute or sell some of the personal information.

Currently, there is a global explosion of location-based applications, meaning that the developers should address the privacy issues. I have a variety of applications on my smart phone, but I realized that before the application installs, a privacy policy section emerges. Interestingly, I take some minutes to read the policies and I found out that 70% of the privacy policies are similar, an issue that got me thinking. Do the developers just put that section there, with no meaning attached to it? The privacy policies are everywhere, even in social media.

The last privacy policy I read was from a popular application known as “66 Maps and Navigation.” I can confidently deduce that it had a similar privacy policy from another application. This was my case; owing to the arising similarity of privacy policies, I am sure less people do read the privacy policies. This is because people perceive them as meaningless; after all, if your service provider wishes or is under pressure by the state to provide personal information concerning an individual, I am sure it will gladly provide without consulting the user.

Location-based in car tracking

On-Star is a subscription-based communication service developed by General Motors. It provides a variety of safety and convenience features ranging from emergency assistance to location-based tracking of cars. In addition, it is a telematics gadget; it merges automobile control and monitoring systems with position tracking and wireless technologies. The service operates through an annual or monthly service plan, which provides the users a variety of services such as road assistance, routing assistance, and emergency help. In the car, the users are connected to an On Star Advisor via three-button system (McCormack, 2000).

The On-Star System

The user should press the On Star button or the emergency button, and the entire interactions will be hands free. It also has a small microphone, which picks the user’s voice. This system comprise of s universal communications tool, which links satellite and cellular technology. Earlier on, their system relied on the Global Positioning System (GPS) network, but currently, their system utilizes a nation-wide cellular network; however, the two systems work together to offer a 24 hours communication service. Vehicles with this system use GGPS through a radio transmitter, which in turn sends signals to a GPS satellite compassing the earth.

The GPS receiver in the vehicle and the GPS satellite produce similar signals known as pseudo-random code. Using this, the experts calculate the time the signal takes to travel between the two points, satellite and the vehicle, and uses the period to determine the distance between the two locations or points. Owing to this, the experts could easily locate the vehicles position, a positive move towards reducing car thefts and associated crimes. The On-Star system is a typical example of how location-based technology can be useful in the real life situation (McCormack, 2000).

Numerous people in the globe are utilizing these types of technology, and I feel it is a good move towards development and elimination of crimes. In addition, numerous studies on this system suggest that the public perceives the system as working well to cater for their needs; therefore, I would recommend this technology for others to adopt. It is a simple technology, which does not require exceptional proficiency to operate; meaning that anyone can use the system. In this technology-filled world, paper maps are slowly losing value. Notably, people still use them when travelling far places, such as hikes.

In addition, in a school setting, it is the major tool for teaching geography and history lessons; however, I have never purchased a paper map, and I do not see myself purchasing it because I can utilize the variety of applications, which will serve the same purpose, in an easy way. On the other hand, technology, especially in car tracking systems has offered cheap ways to secure a person’s car. Many car theft cases have been prevented for users who have their cars installed with tracking systems. Personally, I feel that these systems will work well to handle car theft crimes; a significant menace in the globe. In addition, it will help in avoiding unexpected car accidents. This means that reliance on car-based technology will grow exponentially in the next decade.

Tracking Children

It is a usual feeling among parents to express extreme concern when it comes to their children, and it is a mutual feeling. Many parents fear when they cannot reach their children, especially because they are out playing with peers or have wandered off in the neighborhood. In this new technological era, which comes in forms of voice watches, applications with location-based tracking technology, will ease the distress. The smart phones use GPS, Wi-FI and numerous location-tracking technologies, which parents can link on their phones using some applications. Parents get concerned when their children talk on the phone with strangers, at times their children may get lost, or they spend too much time on the internet.

Parents get curious, which is normal. Therefore, location-based tracking applications are the most appropriate tools to use in an attempt to protect your children. The systems have a wider range of benefits. For instance, parents are aware when their children get home or school, a move that gives them easy time knowing their children are safe. On the other hand, the tracking applications let the children know when their parents are on their way home. For minors under the age of 18, the tracking applications or devices come in handy. For instance, they can come in form of watches, equipped with a microphone for constant communication.

This is because they cannot have smart phones at their age. Therefore, the watches will track their locations and allows for voice calls from their parents. In addition, the watch has a red panic button, which the child can press when they become separated from their parents in case of a riot, or any incidence that may lead to separation. Numerous applications may serve the tracking purpose in turn saving time and money, which the parent might not have. They also reduce anxiety and worries that parents may have in the absence of their kids. Some parents may opt to provide smart phones to their young kids, and many applications such as AT&T’s Family Map, offer services that will track the phones of their kids by sending a message, or email when their children arrives home from school (Eisenberg, 2013).

Helicopter Parents

A “helicopter” mother or father is a parent who loves their children in an extreme manner, hovering them, shelter their parents from mistakes thereby insulating them from their immediate environment. Owing to this “helicopter parenting” refers to obsession of a child’s success and safety. Studies on this issue suggest that this type of parenting is harmful because the parents may unknowingly teach their children unethical acts such as bullying (Olivas and Jones, 2011). In addition, the studies suggest that it can pose legal implications in relation to the privacy rights. Over-parenting has existed for a long time, but currently “helicopter parenting” is the norm today. Parents who resist this trend, may comply to it owing to pressure to fit in a society full of “helicopter parents.” Research further suggests that helicopter parenting can be present in all races, ages, and religions; however, some scholars argue that the phenomenon relies on class, race, ethnic lines, culture, and economic status (Olivas and Jones, 2011).


Eisenberg, A. (2013). If a Young Child Wanders, Technology Can Follow. New York Times.

Retrieved November 29, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/technology/if-a-young-child-wanders-technology-can-follow.html?_r=0

McCormack, W. (2000). General Motors On-Star Retrieved from http://faculty.darden.virginia.edu/GBUS885-00/Documents/OnStar_rev0907a.pdf

Olivas, M.A., & Jones, D.Y. (2011). Hovering too close: The ramifications of helicopter parenting. Retrieved from http://www.law.uh.edu/ihelg/monograph/11-12.pdf

Park, S., Keil, M., Kim, J. & Bock, G.W. (2012). Understanding Overbidding Behavior in C2C

Auctions: An Escalation Theory Perspective. European Journal of Information Systems, 21(6), 643 — 663.

Weiss, S.A. (2013). Exploring news apps and location-based services on the smart phone.

Journalism and mass communication, 90(3), 435-456.

Yun, H., Han, D., & Lee, C.C. (2013). Understanding the use of location-based service applications: Do privacy concerns matter. Journal of electronic commerce research, 14(3), 215-229.

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