Just last month, Google Maps launched a new location sharing service, allowing users to share their exact location with a contact for a period of time, or until the feature is shut off.
Professor Katina Michael from the University of Wollongong, who researched location tracking technology for more than a decade, said the potential for trauma associated with using such services was not often considered.
"We've been looking at the social implications of location services, and one thing we've found by doing experiments with people holding location-based devices like a smartphone or a GPS tracker is that there is an assumption of safety from the offset," Professor Michael said.
But data can be wrong, and she said people watching on could become distressed when these services displayed something unexpected.
Professor Michael said a man in one of her studies was watching his partner return from work, when she appeared to miss a train and stay behind on the platform.
He became stressed and imagined that she had intentionally stayed behind because she was with someone.
"In actual fact, she hadn't missed the train, she hadn't stayed behind," Professor Michael said.
"It's just that that's where the last location ping had occurred."
Location tracking 'gamifying' life
Professor Michael said location data could also cause stress for the person being tracked.
"If it's tracking them to the wrong location, it makes them very anxious," Professor Michael said.
"Because they know they're being watched by somebody else and they haven't done anything wrong. They've said they were going to be where they were and they are, but the location data is showing the wrong information."
Professor Michael said people using location sharing services, like parents tracking their kids, or carers tracking people with dementia, needed to be careful not to blindly trust the data.
In the case of Hall's death, the data was right.
And it is unlikely to be the last time such a tragedy unfolds, with people watching from home via location tracking services.
Professor Michael said that in sport in particular, location services would become more prolific and more public.
"It's gamifying life," she said.
"And when you gamify, observers start to flock and to watch, like the dot watchers in this race ... it's being enthralled in the spectacle."
Citation: Katina Michael cited in Jake Evans, April 9, 2017, "Mike Hall's death won't be last time tragedy unfolds via Google Maps, expert says", ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-09/mike-halls-death-watched-on-google-maps-by-thousands/8415522