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[liberationtech] FW: urban informatics ?

Michael Gurstein gurstein at
Thu Mar 3 06:49:13 PST 2011

-----Original Message-----
From: David Sadoway [mailto:bigbluearth at] 
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 12:06 AM
To: Michael Gurstein
Subject: PRC: urban informatics ?

Beijing to track all mobile phone users' movements

Government to monitor 20m people

Stephen Chen [South China Morning Post, Hong Kong]
Mar 03, 2011

Talk about Big Brother! Every Beijing mobile phone user will be tracked
through the use of the latest global positioning technology, the municipal
government announced on Tuesday. The project, called the Information
Platform of Real-time Citizen Movement, aims to watch over more than 20
million people in Beijing 24 hours a day, local media said yesterday.
Wherever you are - whether in the bathroom, on the subway or in Tiananmen
Square - the government will know.

Wireless communication experts said the system would be particularly useful
not only for following the whereabouts of individuals but also in detecting
any unusual gathering of a large number of people.

It is unknown whether the government launched the project to prevent a
"jasmine revolution" or other social unrest, but with the help of
supercomputers, officials will know where the next gathering spot is before
protesters get there.

Li Guoguang - deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Science and
Technology Commission, which worked on the project with China Mobile (SEHK:
0941, announcements, news) and, presumably, the two other state-owned mobile
service providers, China Unicom (SEHK: 0762, announcements, news) and China
Telecom (SEHK: 0728) - told the Beijing Daily that the project would be used
only to ease traffic jams.

Using data provided by mobile service providers, the government would know
the population distribution and movement of the city with unprecedented
accuracy, Li said.

"To some degree, [the project] can effectively increase citizens' travelling
efficiency and ease traffic jams" by giving officials information such as
which subway line was crowded, which bus line was filled and which road was
congested, Li was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Citizens could get the information but would have to pay, he said.

Li said sensitive information, such as who was where and in which direction
they were heading, would be kept within the government.

How many people were in the Wangfujing shopping district, heading to the
front door of the McDonald's restaurant there and staying for a couple of
hours - information related to calls for a Chinese "jasmine revolution"  on
the past two Sundays - would not be available to the public, even for a fee,
but government agencies such as the Public Security Bureau would know.

China National Radio said the municipal government hoped to start the
project in the densely populated Tiantongyuan and Huilongguan areas in the
first half of this year.

Chen Derong , professor of wireless communications at the Beijing University
of Posts and Telecommications, said mobile positioning technology was based
on a simple theory of radio communication.

A mobile phone constantly beams out signals to radio receivers built by
service providers, mostly antennae on steel towers. Each radio wave arrives
with different timing, and by calculating these differences, the service
provider can pin down the location of an active phone.

"Beijing's plan is to integrate the three different mobile service providers
into one platform so that everyone with a power-on cell phone can be
tracked," Chen said.

"Certainly the use of the platform will not be limited to gathering traffic
information. Officials in other areas, such as anti-terrorism and stability
maintenance, will also find it useful."=

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