The service uses cellphone towers and GPS signals to triangulate a person's position.
- The website Life360.com allows anyone to type in a cellphone number and locate the user.
- Network location services can save lives, protect children, and enable business services.
Is it possible to pinpoint your location with nothing more than a cellphone number? Absolutely.
Your smart phone always knows where you are. And thanks to the Life360.com service, powered by technology from a company called Loc-Aid, a parent can locate a child by her phone number or even an elderly parent who has wandered away from home.
Indeed, network location services can save lives, protect children, and enable business services -- and they're available to anyone.
Thanks to a free online demo at Loc-Aid.com, you can type in the cellphone number of anyone in the United States and find their precise location in just a few seconds.
Agreements with wireless carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint let Loc-Aid triangulate position using cellular towers and the GPS signal on your phone. In urban areas, the results are more precise than rural areas where there are fewer cell towers.
Locaid adds security measures to keep the site safe: You have to type in your own birthday (to prevent minors from using the service) and the person you are trying to locate must agree to the location search by replying to a text message.
But after validating a phone, Locaid doesn't require the user to be involved. Banks and marketers can search for the location of someone who opts-in to the service at any time.
"App developers can use mobile network location for things like validating legitimate credit card purchases and detecting fraud ... or tracking assets like laptops or street-cleaners or dumpsters," explained Carolyn Hodge, a spokeswoman for the Loc-Aid service.
Cybersecurity expert Jeanine Swatton says location tracking apps are extremely common. There is a "social-discovery" app called Banjo that helps you find friends based on their GPS coordinates. And Google Latitude provides a similar function. Each of these services are "opt-in" so you have to agree to share your location.