What if positioning services had millimetre precision?
This artifact addresses the potential of precision positioning in an application for mapping out crowds, reducing the risk of contamination and the spread of diseases during a pandemic.
5G and feasibility
With the enhanced positioning capabilities of 5G, especially in places with a high density of base stations like cities, one could pinpoint a devices’ location down to the centi- or millimetre. In combination with the increased capacity provided by the network, this could make services like the already existing “smittestop” be more detailed, and provide highly accurate movement patterns, warning people at risk.
This is an example of an existing service that would work significantly better in combination with 5G. Compared to the existing service, the 5G edition might even be able to distinguish two people being separated by a thin wall or glass pane, even though they are less than a metre apart. The increased security of 5G could also increase adoption rates of the application, as security tied to data and privacy is a major concern.
ReflectionA controversial topic during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the newly developed app “smittestopp”. The app collects positioning data from its users, in order to provide warnings about potential disease. The use of the application has sparked a large debate drawing parallels to how google sells positioning data about their users to the highest bidder. NRK made a case on this, showing how easy it is to buy positioning data and using the data to pinpoint the movement pattern of individuals.
With 5G the accuracy of positioning services could offer millimetre precision, which could be used to track your movement in extreme detail. This could mean that services collecting positioning data could analyze your movements and know where your bedroom is, or how long you have been sitting on the toilet, at least if you bring your phone. What if your positioning data was a way of paying for ‘free’ applications? Do we feel comfortable with big corporations knowing our every move?
The questions we ask through this artifact involve the future of position tracking and data privacy.