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View Full Version : Question for cell phone experts. How come they didn't track Kelsey.......


Eric
06-06-2007, 07:10 PM
sooner with the pinging from her cellphone?

Is this a major fu** up by the police?

They found her body with the cell phone but couldn't locate her sooner?

irishjayhawk
06-06-2007, 07:11 PM
I, too, am amazed by this.

Subscriber is labelled as missing/kidnapped.
Phone company locates phone.
Phone company notifies police.
Police dispatched.

I don't see how it took 3 days for that to happen.

Mr. Laz
06-06-2007, 07:22 PM
I, too, am amazed by this.

Subscriber is labelled as missing/kidnapped.
Phone company locates phone.
Phone company notifies police.
Police dispatched.

I don't see how it took 3 days for that to happen.
yep ..... i don't understand this either


i can only think 2 things happened

1. police didn't think about it

and/or

2. the proper people weren't around at the phone company on the weekend.


i wonder if this issue is gonna blow up soon.

Phobia
06-06-2007, 07:23 PM
3. Maybe pinging cell phones doesn't provide exact locations in real life like it does on CSI.

Eric
06-06-2007, 07:26 PM
Phob, they can find the body though. It was close enough.

Phobia
06-06-2007, 07:32 PM
Phob, they can find the body though. It was close enough.

4 days after the fact. It wasn't close enough.

Mr. Laz
06-06-2007, 07:39 PM
3. Maybe pinging cell phones doesn't provide exact locations in real life like it does on CSI.
yea... but apparently they didn't start searching around there until yesterday.

rad
06-06-2007, 07:41 PM
Maybe it was off.

Can they still track it when it's off?

Mr. Laz
06-06-2007, 07:52 PM
Maybe it was off.

Can they still track it when it's off?
if it was off then how did it get turned back on?

Mile High Mania
06-06-2007, 07:53 PM
Maybe it was off.

Can they still track it when it's off?

It's not a GPS device like OnStar... according to Law & Order, the phone has to be in use before you can tell which towers the signal is coming from..

Dicky McElephant
06-06-2007, 07:59 PM
They used the ping from a call placed to the cell phone by her parents....who were trying to reach her. As far as I read...that was the last ping they got from her cellphone. They're thinking that the cell phone was then turned off.

irishjayhawk
06-06-2007, 08:09 PM
They used the ping from a call placed to the cell phone by her parents....who were trying to reach her. As far as I read...that was the last ping they got from her cellphone. They're thinking that the cell phone was then turned off.

Yes, but how does it take 3 days to locate the ping?

allen_kcCard
06-06-2007, 08:10 PM
It isn't as simple as it sounds. I'm not a person that knows the engineering behind it all, but I know that unless you make a call it isn't as simple as pulling up an account and seeing where someone is. When you make a call, the record keeping done for tracking minutes, roaming, and all that stuff shows what cell tower your call went through and where your home tower is, thats how they determine if your in network and such.

I know that your phone has to stay in touch with towers so that your phone knows to ring and if you are roaming and all that, so I assume that this is the ping they are talkign about. This wouldn't be something that typically gets tracked or written to an account or sub anywhere, so to get it there would have to be some major searching done by a the carrier ro search other kinds of data to look for it. I know they can do some stuff when working with 911, but it isn't something where the company can easily tell where anyone is at any time....if they could and did that would be invasion of privacy and big brotherish.

MIAdragon
06-06-2007, 08:10 PM
You can track a phone but its pretty hard and doesn’t give you exact locations. You need to triangulate the signal from at least three towers, that will get you in the general area. I don’t think cops are well versed in something like this.

Mile High Mania
06-06-2007, 08:30 PM
Enjoy the read...

http://www.travelbygps.com/articles/tracking.php

So, in general, you can not track someone using their cell phone, unless the person you want to track has the right kind of cell phone, connected to the right network, with the right service.

http://www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.asp?id=9633&deptid=5

Mr. Laz
06-06-2007, 09:31 PM
Enjoy the read...

http://www.travelbygps.com/articles/tracking.php

So, in general, you can not track someone using their cell phone, unless the person you want to track has the right kind of cell phone, connected to the right network, with the right service.

http://www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.asp?id=9633&deptid=5
well they did track hers up to the area around one tower

so the question is not whether they could ....... it's why did it take so long to do?

hawkchief
06-06-2007, 09:46 PM
Seems dumb that the OP Police just gave the criminal world a free education on cell-phone pinging. IMO they should have kept their mouths shut so some other douce like this guy knows to throw the cell phone out the window. Ridiculous.

Logical
06-06-2007, 09:58 PM
3. Maybe pinging cell phones doesn't provide exact locations in real life like it does on CSI.Think it depends on the Cell phone. Some phones have GPS trackers and they can be triangulated to within a 100 yards others do not. Then the triangulation has to be done via pinging from different towers and the triangulation is not even close to that accurate.

Phobia
06-06-2007, 10:25 PM
Seems dumb that the OP Police just gave the criminal world a free education on cell-phone pinging. IMO they should have kept their mouths shut so some other douce like this guy knows to throw the cell phone out the window. Ridiculous.

This thread is a perfect example of idiots getting a criminal investigation education on television. If dude didn't learn to shield his face from the camera and ditch the cell phone from TV and Grand Theft Auto, he wasn't ever gonna learn anything from something the OPPD.

Phobia
06-06-2007, 10:25 PM
Think it depends on the Cell phone. Some phones have GPS trackers and they can be triangulated to within a 100 yards others do not. Then the triangulation has to be done via pinging from different towers and the triangulation is not even close to that accurate.

And for the phones who do have the feature, you have to enable it. It's off by default for privacy concerns.

irishjayhawk
06-06-2007, 10:33 PM
Frankly, if there's one issue to bring up after this tragedy - for purposes to eliminate it next time - it's the cell phone issue. Tracking should be instantaneous. It should be standard.

irishjayhawk
06-06-2007, 11:29 PM
In my feed reader, a relevant link, http://daringfireball.net/2007/06/cell_tower_positioning

Interesting.

Mile High Mania
06-07-2007, 06:28 AM
This thread is a perfect example of idiots getting a criminal investigation education on television.


ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL

jspchief
06-07-2007, 06:36 AM
Didn't the article posted in the other thread mention that the phone was moving and that pings had determined at least 3 different locations?

My guess is it's not so much a matter of it taking 3 days for them to decide to do a ping search as it was a matter of it taking 3 days for the phone to stay in one place long enough to actually be found.

memyselfI
06-07-2007, 06:43 AM
Seems dumb that the OP Police just gave the criminal world a free education on cell-phone pinging. IMO they should have kept their mouths shut so some other douce like this guy knows to throw the cell phone out the window. Ridiculous.

I disagree. Anyone who watched the plight of the James Kin family knows that cell phone pings are used to help track the location of a phone. I think they were also vital in finding the one body of the missing climber on Mt. Hood. Other such pings have helped to locate motorists who've driven off roads and were too injured to make a call.

The lesson here is parents need to encourage their children to know how to use a cell phone and always carry it. The police undoubtedly informed many young people who think of their phone as their social life line could also be the one instrument that helps their family find them in the event of an awful tragedy.

Even if the phone is tossed out the window it would give the police valuable information about where the victim last was after they were abducted...information they sometimes never get but desperately need.

I think this knowledge will save lives.

Think about it, any idiot who would do something like this in broad daylight isn't going to be worried about whether or not his victim has a cell phone.

ChiefsfaninPA
06-07-2007, 06:45 AM
I agree with Phob, you guys watch too much T.V. and beleive everything you see. It is sad and unfortunate what happened, but this didn't take place in the context of a 30 min. or 1 hour show.

Fire Me Boy!
06-07-2007, 07:18 AM
Police actually started searching the area on Tuesday. They just didn't announce it until Wednesday.

I'm guessing it may be a matter of red tape -- not that it's right or wrong, but that may be the case.

Stewie
06-07-2007, 07:21 AM
I haven't followed this real close, but what's the time line? I'm sure a few hours went by before a missing person report was filed and the investigation started. I know her car was returned to the Oak Park Macy's that same evening, probably before anyone started looking for her and unfortunately she was probably already dead. I doubt following pinging cell phones is much help in real time on something that happens as quickly as this did.

Bob Dole
06-07-2007, 07:40 AM
ABC news a bit ago stated that the "pings" they used were from the "frantic calls placed by her parents and boyfriend Saturday night". They even had a guy from the phone company standing outside with the reported pointing at the nearby tower. "We believe the phone is back in that area, behind the tower."

Bob Dole doesn't know what all is involved, but common sense tells you that there's massive amounts of data to wade through, and there's likely not some guy sitting at a console at every phone company just awaiting a call to sort through eleventy bajillion records.

Stewie
06-07-2007, 07:42 AM
Pinging a cell phone is not very effective in finding someone quickly according to this snippet from the KC Star:

Smith had been gone nearly three days before authorities finished analyzing cell phone data that would eventually lead them to her. On Wednesday, they combed the area in southern Jackson County near Longview Lake where Smith’s cell phone sent signals to cell towers in the area. Authorities began gathering the data shortly after Smith was reported missing but said it took time for detailed analysis.

That data showed that her phone passed through telephone cells located on Interstate 35, Interstate 435 east to U.S. 71, then south to the Longview Lake park area.

While there were several signals known as “pings” in that wide vicinity, there were two from near Longview Lake around 8 p.m. Saturday, said Overland Park Police spokesman Matt Bregel.

“Pings” occur when a phone is in use, either receiving a call or sending one.

Authorities believe that in this case, they were from calls coming in. Smith’s boyfriend, John Biersmith, began calling her phone about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when she hadn’t returned to her home where he was waiting.

He and Smith’s family and friends continued calling throughout the night.

“Apparently her cell phone was traveling,” Bregel said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We focused near where it hit twice.”

The data showed the “pings” in that area were within 12 minutes of each other, Bregel said.

Though Overland Park police and others quietly searched the area Tuesday, authorities didn’t disclose the location until Wednesday. That’s when more than 240 officers, from multiple agencies, canvassed the area.

journeyscarab
06-07-2007, 08:27 AM
I work for Sprint and I can try and explain what the folks on TV could not properly explain.

When your cell phone is on - it is constantly looking for the nearest tower in order to receive a call. The 'ping' goes both ways. The cell phone looks for the nearest tower to say "here I am" and the tower then can connect any calls or text messages going to that phone - if there are any. If not, the phone still communicates with the tower every few seconds to show its location. As the phone travels between towers it signals both towers and depending on the call volume, distance between towers and signal strength the towers hand off the call to the closest tower.

All Sprint phones have GPS locator software (that I am aware of) which can be disabled by the user. It actually is active when you first purchase the phone. Even if you deactivate the locator the phone can still be tracked through the towers (especially for billing purposes) and you can be located by 911 in an emergency but the location is not as accurate with the locator turned off.

With the locator turned off they can locate you within a few blocks of the closest tower through triangulation of signals from the last towers your phone pinged. With it turned on I think its within 100 feet but not exactly where you're at.

As for criminals knowing this information - its readily available on the internet. In the commission of a crime they arent always going to be thinking of every little thing to cover up their crime. The idiot was from Olathe and instead of taking Quviera south to 435 the dope drove up 95th street, to I-35, then got on 435 and headed to Longview Lake. In the heat of the crime mistakes get made.

Sprint has a Family Locator package thats like $10 a month. With a compatible phone you can track your childs location at all times without calling them. It works off of the pings and sends their location to you cell phone or email - as long as the phone is on.

Additionally it takes a bit of time for the technicians to go through the tower records and track her movement which is possibly why it took until Tuesday evening to figure out the path. They had to get ahold of the company, do the research and then move. Track Call Detail Records takes a little time.

Again...I may be off on a few items but I just wanted to clarify some of the discussions going on in the press.

Simplex3
06-07-2007, 08:53 AM
Most phones only send their GPS position on phone calls like 911. Even then they're notoriously inaccurate.

*IF* the phone was on the whole time the carrier could have told which tower the phone was currently registered on, but that really doesn't narrow things down by much.

Fire Me Boy!
06-07-2007, 08:59 AM
I haven't followed this real close, but what's the time line? I'm sure a few hours went by before a missing person report was filed and the investigation started. I know her car was returned to the Oak Park Macy's that same evening, probably before anyone started looking for her and unfortunately she was probably already dead. I doubt following pinging cell phones is much help in real time on something that happens as quickly as this did.
Here's the timeline (http://www.nbcactionnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=24488c3e-6d8e-4e9a-a32b-e8e72a378ad9) .

Apparently, Kelsey was VERY responsible and was always on time. They started calling her when she was supposed to be home. The phone pinged off the final tower twice -- the only place it pinged twice.

Saulbadguy
06-07-2007, 09:58 AM
This thread is a perfect example of idiots getting a criminal investigation education on television. If dude didn't learn to shield his face from the camera and ditch the cell phone from TV and Grand Theft Auto, he wasn't ever gonna learn anything from something the OPPD.
For the most part, smart criminals do not get caught.

Chief Chief
06-07-2007, 11:51 AM
You can track a phone but its pretty hard and doesn’t give you exact locations. You need to triangulate the signal from at least three towers, that will get you in the general area. I don’t think cops are well versed in something like this.

Police may not be good at triangulation but they're great at copulation!

Valiant
06-07-2007, 01:42 PM
Enjoy the read...

http://www.travelbygps.com/articles/tracking.php

So, in general, you can not track someone using their cell phone, unless the person you want to track has the right kind of cell phone, connected to the right network, with the right service.

http://www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.asp?id=9633&deptid=5


And that is why we have boost mobile now.. Great advertising too making it seem hip to have, police love it because most drug dealers use the prepay phones to do deals... Now they know 'where you at'..

htismaqe
06-07-2007, 02:02 PM
Frankly, if there's one issue to bring up after this tragedy - for purposes to eliminate it next time - it's the cell phone issue. Tracking should be instantaneous. It should be standard.

Forget cell phones.

Microchip everyone.

Mile High Mania
06-07-2007, 02:34 PM
Forget cell phones.

Microchip everyone.

People put the chips in dogs... hell, we have a 5 month old puppy we received from a shelter and it has a chip. My dog can be lost and we'll find him pretty quick - if someone finds him and they take him to a vet that is able to make use of the chip. But, not so much with any of my 3 kids...

Something about that seems odd, but not as odd as inserting a microchip in my kids. Weird, huh.

htismaqe
06-07-2007, 02:54 PM
People put the chips in dogs... hell, we have a 5 month old puppy we received from a shelter and it has a chip. My dog can be lost and we'll find him pretty quick - if someone finds him and they take him to a vet that is able to make use of the chip. But, not so much with any of my 3 kids...

Something about that seems odd, but not as odd as inserting a microchip in my kids. Weird, huh.

Think of the children.

Think of how many lives can be saved if only we would put a tracking device in everyone's right hand.

Mile High Mania
06-07-2007, 03:00 PM
Think of the children.

Think of how many lives can be saved if only we would put a tracking device in everyone's right hand.

I've been waiting for memememe to run wild with this one... funny how she shows up on a non-sports thread. Weird.