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This article was published on March 3, 2011

    Beijing to track citizens with their cell phones

    Beijing to track citizens with their cell phones
    Francis Tan
    Story by

    Francis Tan

    Francis Tan is the Asia editor of TNW, who is based in the Philippines. He is particularly interested in Asian Internet startups, social me Francis Tan is the Asia editor of TNW, who is based in the Philippines. He is particularly interested in Asian Internet startups, social media and e-commerce. Get in touch with him via Twitter @francistan or Email [email protected].

    As if the Great Firewall is not enough, the Chinese government is now looking into monitoring the movement of 17 million cellphone users in Beijing, China by tracking the signal of their mobile devices.

    Purportedly to improve Beijing’s public travel and reduce traffic congestion, the new initiative, literally translated as “Platform for Citizen Movement Information” proposes to track each individual citizen’s movement in real time via cell phone signals, as reported on the Beijing Municipal People’s Government website.

    Li Guoguang, Deputy Director of Social Development believes that cellular location technology for real-time user tracking is an efficient way to establish a public information platform for travelling. Whenever a user switches on their phone, it will automatically transmit signals to the base station and the government can easily determine the user’s location and general direction. Using this data, combined with dynamic analysis, the staff will be able to target specific areas at different times and track the general flow of travel and population distribution.

    Li Guoguang added that the next step is to provide the public with  personalized reports so that they can be aware of the city’s traffic congestion and thereby choose the best alternate way to travel.