How to Track your location without using GPS (using LAC and CID)


We all need a tracking device at some point to keep a track on our friends, family or our belongings (vehicles... my precious!) etc. but not all of us can afford the cost of a GPS device.So, i decided to find on the internet if there is a way one can track his/her location using the common cellphone (sadly not all cellphones can do this at this moment). And, to my surprise there is a unique way to keep track of ones location using this method.
Track your location without using GPS (using LAC and CID)
You might be knowing about Google maps for mobile by now. Google maps comes with my location feature that tells your approximate location without using GPS. Cool...! Isn't it....? But we cannot use this feature remotely to locate the device.... huh!
So, what is the technology that google uses to track the device and how can we use it to track it remotely???

To know more about it... lets get started!

Step 1Knowing the science behind it

The my location feature works on the cell tower technology. The cell tower of your operator generates some unique codes to locate the area where it is. So, basically my location feature points out the location of the cell tower from where you are getting the reception. Simple!

All we need to do is get these codes, send them to our computer via email/IM/SMS and enter them in the google maps. This way we will be able to track the approximate location of the device.

So, what all things do we need to track a cellphone?
Things we need:
1. A smartphone/cellphone - Android, IPhone, Blackberry,Nokia - S60 or above, Sony Ericsson - JP 7 or above (other than these not many are supported).
2. GPRS or internet connection.
2. Software to get location codes.
3. A working computer with internet connection and ofcourse Google maps.

That's it!

Proceed to step 2...

Step 2Get LAC and CID codes

Get LAC and CID codes

To know the current location of the cellphone, you will need four level of codes, namely:
MCC - Mobile country code (fixed code and available online)
MNC - Mobile network code (fixed code and available online)

LAC - Local Area Code (dynamic and required from the handset)
CID - Cell ID (dynamic and required from the handset)

The first two codes can be obtained from wikipedia.org:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_Network_Code

Check for your country and mobile operator and you will see the corresponding MCC and MNC codes.
For example, for India (country) and Vodafone (Mobile operator) the MCC is 404 and MNC is 01 (for Haryana - State/City i.e. mobile circle)

Now, to get LAC and CID codes you will have to download a software on your device:

Cellspotting:
http://www.cellspotting.com      – Nokia S60 or above, Sony Ericsson JP7 or above

Network Monitor:
http://www.ottaky.com/midlets.php       - Sony Ericsson JP7 or above

Cell track:
http://www.afischer-online.de/sos/celltrack/      - Symbian S60 or above

Net Monitor:
http://www.androlib.com/android.application.com-parizene-netmonitor-iCEn.aspx     – Android

Cell finder:
http://code.google.com/p/codetastrophe/     - Android

Cell Tower Locator:
http://www.appbrain.com/app/cell-tower-locator/tm.app.cellTowerLocator    - Android

Install the app on your phone.
Start the App and get the LAC and CID codes.

Now, here is the tricky part... some phones like Android and IPhone provide you with the codes in Decimal format (which is good) and some like nokia and SE provide them in Hexadecimal format.

You will have to convert those hexadecimal codes into decimal codes in order to enter them in to the search bar.

Log on to: http://www.statman.info/conversions/hexadecimal.html

Enter value on the left hand side and click on "to decimal'  and copy the copy generated on the right hand side.



Step 3Track it!

Track it!

Now,
Log on to http://cellphonetrackers.org/gsm/gem-tracker.php
Enter the respective codes and hit ‘Track it’...
Ta..da... Your device has been located!

Now, the obvious question is how to send these codes regularly to the computer in order to continuously track it without a break?
Sadly, i have no clue about it. There is no app or website i have come across that can handle such a query.

But, the good part is the JavaME codes are available online freely and one can try to make his/her own app to do this.
If you happen to come across any such app that can perform this activity automatically, please do post it here. Sharing is learning!


Note: This method does not provides the accurate location of your cellphone/device and it is not useful for managing directions but comes very handy for those who cannot afford the cost of a GPS system. It is useful to track stolen vehicles or even track family, friends.
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