Tracking terror by cell phone

New system adds another layer of defence. 

Mobile networks track speedboat-riding terrorists

Scientists in Germany have developed a surveillance system for coastal areas and ports using mobile telephone network signals. It is aimed at terrorists who could approach a coastline undetected in speedboats and bring explosives on land.

The system is based on what is called passive coherent location (PCL), a “passive” form of radar in that it consists of a receiver but lacks its own transmitter of pulsed electromagnetic signals to bounce off objects.

Instead, it relies on the continuous signals emitted by mobile telephone base station towers, which are reflected by objects in the vicinity and then picked up by the receiver and evaluated. This is considerably more difficult than using conventional radar.

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