The Uttarkhand floods have been devastating. With the infrastructure collapsed, it has been a very difficult task to trace & rescue the victims. Fortunately, telecom service providers are extending network services support to affix an approximate location of the victims who had been using the mobile phones before the floods destroyed communication.
Telecom companies have been busy analyzing their call records & matching them with the flood victims. Trying to get a location of the victim, the service providers are utilizing call-records & moving backwards to ascertain exactly which cell-towers did the mobile number connected. Getting this information itself could be made available to the rescue teams who are clueless as to where the victims might be trapped.
This method though welcome, reestablishes the importance & dire need of Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) earlier insistence of installing additional location based hardware atop each & every cell-tower. This system, in the two iterations known as Location Based Servers’ (LBS) or ‘Enhanced Cell Global Identity’ (ECGI) could have brought down the effective radius of location. The present equipment on cell-towers only offers approximate location fixing facility.
Mobile phones are often within range of more than one cell-tower & hence the location of a person is actually triangulated from analyzing the effective radius of the tower coverage. For a long time, DoT had been insisting the telecom companies to install location enhancement devices which would have narrowed the location radius to 50 meters. But telecom companies were reluctant citing the exorbitant expense & wanted the Indian Government to foot either the complete or partial bill.
At present, in addition to analyzing the location data, service providers have been setting up IVR based call-centers that would offer this information to friends & relatives who wanted to know the approximate whereabouts of the victims. Various Numbers of the respective Service Providers are mentioned below:
Bharti Airtel Subscribers: 9818003057, 9958976317
Idea Cellular Subscribers: 8191999999, 8191999998
BSNL Subscribers: 1503, 09412024365
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