Sociology of the docile body

Abstract

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Penguin Social Sciences): Michel Foucault, Alan Sheridan: 8601404245756: Books

Embedded radio-frequency identification, sensor technologies, biomedical devices and a new breed of nanotechnologies are now being commercialized within a variety of contexts and use cases. As these technologies gather momentum in the marketplace, consumers will need to navigate the changing cybernetic landscape. The trichotomy facing consumers are: (1) to adopt RFID implants as a means of self-expression or to resolve a technological challenge; (2) to adopt RFID implants for diagnostic or prosthetic purposes to aid in restorative health; as well as considerations (3) for enforced adoption stemming from institutional or organizational top-down control that has no direct benefit to the end-user. This paper uses the penal metaphor to explore the potential negative impact of enforced microchipping. The paper concludes with a discussion on the importance of protecting human rights and freedoms and the right to opt-out of sub-dermal devices.

Section I. Introduction

Radiofrequency identification (RFID) implant technology, sensor technology, biomedical devices, and nanotechnology continue to find increasing application in a variety of vertical markets. Significant factors leading to continued innovation include: convergence in devices, miniaturisation, storage capacity, and materials. The most common implantable devices are used in the medical domain, for example, heart pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). In non-medical applications, implantable devices are used for identification, [close-range] location and condition monitoring, care and convenience use cases [1].

RFID implants can be passive or active, and predominantly have a function to broadcast a unique ID when triggered by a reader within a specific read range. Sensors onboard an RFID device can, for instance, provide additional data such as an individual's temperature reading, pulse rate and heart rate. Biomedical devices usually have a specific function, like the provision of an artificial knee or hip, and can contain RFID and other specific sensors. An example cited in Ratner & Ratner that demonstrates the potential for nanotechnology to bring together RFID, sensors, and the biomedical realms is to inject nanobots into a soldier's bloodstream. “The sensors would circulate through the bloodstream and could be monitored at a place where blood vessels are closest to the surface, such as the eye… While quite invasive, so-called in vivo sensors could also have other uses in continually monitoring the health of a soldier” [2], p. 42f.

The next step in the miniaturization path for RFID microchips is nanotechnology, which allows for working at the nanoscale, that is the molecular level [3] p. 90. Humancentric implants are discussed [4], pp. 198-214, in the context of nanotechnology ethical and social implications. Regardless of the breakthroughs to come in these humancentric embedded surveillance devices (ESDs), we will soon be moving the discussion beyond, merely how the technologies are aiding humanity, regardless of whether such technologies are mobilized to aid human health or impair it. The fundamental concerns will rest within human willingness to adopt the technology, and not in what the technology claims to eradicate in and of itself. In order to later contextualize the issues surrounding human rights of refusal, this paper will now present a material view of implantable technologies in their nascent stage. A clear distinction will be made between nanotechnologies that can be used as a mechanism of control versus, for example, bio-medical technologies that are freely chosen and designed for the sole purpose of improving human health with no benefit extending beyond the aid of the individual.

Section II. Previous Work

Although cybernetic technologies have boundless potential to surface under an array of interchangeable names, for the purpose of this paper, RFID implants will be investigated given the degree of global attention they have experienced [5]–[6][7][8]. In Western civilization, RFID is being used for tracking merchandise and similar devices are used in our family pets to locate them should they roam astray [9]. Now the RFID is being considered for 24-7 human location monitoring. In order to offer a pragmatic perspective, which does not deviate from one source of research to the other, Hervé Aubert's 2011 article entitled, “RFID technology for human implant devices” [10] is utilized as the primary source of data given its seminal contribution to the field.

A. Experimental Stages of Cybernetic Innovations

Aubert investigates one type of RFID known as the VeriChip™; which is a device presently engineered to provide a data-bank of important records on the individual [5], in particular on the application of a personal health record for high-risk patients (PHR) [11], [12]. In addition, this implantable RFID that is known for its remote identification of persons or animals is being considered for the purpose of protective human surveillance [13]. RFID devices are not only being considered for identifying and locating humans, but for its potential to “remotely control human biological functions” [10], [14], p. 676. According to Aubert, this nano-technology is not conducive as a ‘spychip’ with current-day technologies, as it cannot successfully be connected to a Global Positioning System (which offers real-time tracking), as the GPS would require an implant that far surpasses the size capacity of what could be realistically embedded in the human body, and would therefore defeat the notion of a submicron global surveillance system for monitoring human activity. However, there is nothing to say that off-body data receivers, powered by wireless supplies, cannot be stationed short-range to monitor passive responders, such as subdermal RFID's [15]–[16][17]. Currently the anticipated range is dependent on the inductive coupling measured in MHz [5].

Aubert concludes his findings by arguing that RFID are not suitable for real-time tracking of humans as its capability to transmit the location of the body is too limited in range, permitting receivers to only read passive implanted devices within a free space range of 10 cm or less. This limitation makes communication with GPS satellites in an attempt to locate bodies impossible. Once again, this is not to refute the claim that interrogators, stationed territorially, can transmit its data to a centralized global positioning system inversely. Regardless, researchers are arguing nanotechnologies “[w]ill not exclusively revolve around the idea of centralization of surveillance and concentration of power, […but its greatest potential for negative impact will be centred around] constant observation at decentralized levels” [18], p. 283. In addition, depending on the context, monitoring does not have to be continuous but discrete to provide particular types of evidence. It may well be enough to read an RFID at a given access node point (either on entry or exit), or to know that a given unique ID is inside a building, or even headed in a given direction [19]. Two or more points of reading also can provide intricate details about distance, speed, and time, as equipment readers have their own GPS and IP location [20], [21]. It will be simple enough to tether an implant to a mobile phone or any other device with an onboard GPS chipset. Nokia, for instance, had an RFID reader in one of its units 2004 handsets [22].

Although such technologies are far from perfected, at least to the degree of synoptic centralization, with the exception of concerns surrounding information privacy, subdermal implants that are being designed for surveillance of humans is being identified as a central ethical challenge [23]. In particular, this is an ethical challenge because subdermal chips may be either injected or external tags worn on the body such as a PayBand [24] or FitBit. This in itself is not what is creating the most obvious challenge but rather that such devices have the potential to be implemented with or without the individual's consent and, therefore, provoking discussion around the need to legislate to keep pace with technological advances [25]. Although the chip is being suggested for use in a number of ways, bioethicists suggest that prior to these new applications of nanotechnologies becoming a present day reality, “[w]e need to examine carefully the very real dangers that RFID implants could pose to our privacy and our freedom” [5], p. 27. Despite this concern, skin-embedded devices are being employed in a multiplicity of ways, more recently by the biohacking communities who are increasingly commercialising their ideas and prototypes [26].

Aubert lists various possible health benefits of embedded RFID chips, such as the following: “[t]o transmit measurements of chemical or biological data inside the body”, as well as “[m]onitor biological activity” while modifying physiological functions and offer various therapeutic means, such as patient monitoring, such as for glucose concentrations of patients with diabetes [10], p. 676. Another possible health benefit is the potential for monitoring brain activity through “[t]ransponders embedded within the skull”, [10], p. 681. Increasingly implants are being used in techniques such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) to treat a variety of illnesses [27]. As outlined in Aubert's 2011 article, these transponders communicate with implanted probes, enabling the transmittal of localized microstimulation to be administered in response to neuron signals sent.

At this point, it becomes necessary to distinguish that which is engineered to monitor human organs and is freely adopted as a mechanism to improve one's health to that which is in effect through a top-down implementation, in which the individual is given no choice pertaining to adoption. These two scenarios have been demonstrated in a TEDx talk delivered by Katina Michael in 2012 within the “convenience/care” versus “control” contexts [28].

B. Human Versus Machine

Docile Bodies | Vestoj A Chain Gang in South Carolina, c. 1929 - 1931. Doris Umann. http://vestoj.com/docile-bodies/

There is a needful distinction between human and machine. Deciphering between biomedical technology designed for example, to improve human health, or as a means of self-expression (all of which are freely chosen by the individual), versus those designed for a benefit external to the individual and has the ability to be used as a mechanism of control over the citizen. For example, a heart monitor, created to sustain a human, is designed only with the intention to benefit the patient in a life sustaining way; such a device has no apparatus external from this cause that could be used to invoke power over the individual and therefore it is designed with no additional mandate other than improving or maintaining the individual's health [29]. Generally, the decision for adopting such a biomedical implant device is determined by the patient and in most developed nations using a process of consent. Because such a device currently has no mechanism for top-down control, stakeholders (i.e., hospitals, medical device purchasers, inbound logistics managers or buyers) do not have a hidden agenda for adoption. This type of bio-medical device currently possesses no ability to monitor any type of human activity that could contribute to an imbalance of power for the consumer over the user (in this instance the patient).

More recently, one of the largest suppliers of biomedical devices, Medtronics, has begun to blur the line between devices for care and devices for control. Apart from the hard line that most manufacturers of implants hold on who owns the data emanating from the device [30], companies specialising in biomedical devices are now beginning to engage with other secondary uses of their implants [31]. Just like wearable devices, such as the FitBit, are now being used for evidentiary purposes, it will not be long before biomedical devices originally introduced for prosthetic or diagnostic purposes will be used to set individualised health insurance premiums, and more. As noted by [29], even in care-related implant applications, there is an underlying dimension of control that may propel function creep or scope creep. These are the types of issues that bring science and the arts together. George Grant wrote [32], p. 17:

The thinker who has most deeply pondered our technological destiny has stated that the new copenetrated arts and sciences are now proceeding to the apogee of their determining power around the science of cybernetics; […] the mobilization of the objective arts and sciences at their apogee comes more and more to be unified around the planning and control of human activity.

Section III. Research Approach

Hence, while it is important to understand the trichotomy of skin-embedded technologies-deciphering between technology adoption which can be seen as a post-modern indicator of the autonomous self-exercising human rights [33], to that of acceptable bio-Western technologies with its sole function to improve one's existing health conditions (that is also freely chosen of the individual), versus technology which have potential to be used as mechanisms of organizational control-implanted through imposed order [34]. When disambiguating the way in which technology can be used, it is most essential to understand that this differentiation requires no thorough understanding of the purpose of the biotechnology or its utility as the plumb line rests alone, not on the trichotomy of the technology's utility but within the individual's moral freedom and human rights to accept or refuse. Therefore, the plumb line remains, not concerning the device's distinct utility, but rather with freedom of choice.

Currently, the question is being posed as to whether legislation will keep pace, which suggests that either a higher articulation of our former constitution is required or that new legislation be erected that will explicitly defend the rights of the individual to choose for oneself [35].

The ways in which sub-dermal technology may aid correctional facilities' endeavors will be more thoroughly expounded on in the next section. A historical look at a specific top-down and bottom-up institution will be examined, not as a raw set of material facts but, in order to create an inference between the way in which the incremental process of correctional ideologies are the prevailing influence of today and are promoting the individual's outward gaze to self-censorship [36]. Some researchers are arguing it is highly improbable that laws will be erected to enforce subdermal devices, with the exception of use in criminals [37]. Therefore, this next section is being devoted to an investigation of the penal system.

Section IV. The Penal Metaphor

Because the prisoner is being noted as the central focus as a possible industry enroot to legalizing the implementation of sub-dermal RFID's, it becomes imperative to investigate the penal system from an ideological perspective in order to assess its susceptibility [38], pp. 157-249; [39], p. 35. This paper will conclude that there needs to be a distinction between spatial autonomy and moral autonomy as moral freedom is of the higher good and rights to obtain unto this good supersedes loses that could be incurred as a result of the state invoking disciplinary measures [32].

Generation after generation civilization oscillates over freedom of choice, blurring the distinction between freely adopting governing rules of belief, following an individualized interrogation of the ethical underpinnings, versus conforming to systematic ruling government without understanding its fundamental doctrine. Often such systems strive to maintain order through imposing indoctrinations, in which its people accept the ideologies of the dominant class through a constant infiltration of information not conducive to independent thinking of the autonomous self; it is argued that when this knowledge becomes singular it is a form of soft-despotism [40]. Through various mechanisms of social control, such as through a prevailing slant being propagated through the media, it has led an onslaught of persons embodied in space to a place where the individual is losing ability to see the distinction and whereby choose for oneself. The specific slant contained within the dominant message is directing Western society to a place imbued with an external message with its constancy softly-coercing the viewer or listener in one specific direction [32].

A. A Look at the System as an Apparatus of Control

As the high-tech industry evolves, the media continues to endorse such change and those adopting a consumerist mentality continue to commoditize their own body as a source of consumer capitalism [41] through the latest technological upgrade. It will only stand to logic that human adaptation to body modifying devices will become more and more acceptable as a means to live within society, function in commerce and progress in self-actualization [42]. The authors of this paper argue that when any such movement coerces the people in one specific direction it is a form of soft-despotism whether invoked intentionally or otherwise [40].

It is within this investigation of the governing forces over the masses that the focus is taken away from the history of the penal institution in itself to the state's reliance on cumulative rationale. Theorists argue that it is this over reliance on human rationale that is propelling history in one specific direction and thus becomes the force that is evoking a certain type of social order and governance [43].

In order to elucidate Ann Light's notion of how biotechnology can turn us from outside within, she first turns our attention to the penal system [36]. Theorists argue that the open persecution of punishment found within the penal process has radically shifted to become less detectable and more hidden [44]. This is a far cry from the open persecution experienced by, let us say, Joan of Arc [45], as now, largely due to humanitarianism, the public spectacle of the executioner who leads the persecuted to the stake appears an equivalent act of savagery to the public who witnessos, as is the crime itself [44]. Hence the mechanism becomes more hidden and in this sense is argued to be less pervasive [44]. But is it?

Theorists view the apparatus of the persecutor as moving from control over the body to a much more sophisticated apparatus, which slackens the hold on the tangible physical body in exchange for a far more intricate part of the self. This shifts the focus from the external body to the human mind, which is considered as the seat of the soul and the final battleground [46]. Theorists go on to state that these more sophisticated systems of control will only be confirmed to actually exist as history unfolds [36].

The panoptic, for example is a model that can be deemed as a control mechanism which is less pervasive as it moves away from physical punishment to psychological punishment [44]. Specifically the sanctioned individual who believes the monitoring of one's behavior to be constant, whereby shifting the focus of what is believed to be periodic surveillance to a continual presence. The constancy found in this form of surveillance is argued to imprint permanence on the human cognition [36]. It is what M.G. Michael has termed uberveillance—a type of big brother on the inside looking out [47]. In order that the reader may have a clearer understanding of the Panopticon, below is a description of Bentham's institution:

“The hollow interior of the circular Panopticon has an incongruous resemblance to a dovecote with all the doves behind bars. The prisoners' cells are in the circumference, but are open at all times to inspection from the observation tower in the center of the building. The theory of the Panopticon relies on the fiction that each prisoner, alone in his cell, believes that he is under constant observation: yet it is patently impossible that the contractor and his small staff within the central tower could watch 3, 000 prisoners at once. So that the prisoners may not know whom he is watching, or whether he is present at all, the contractor must at all times be invisible; and Bentham thought much about deceptive lighting systems to preserve the illusion of the contractor's permanent presence, a “dark spot” at the center of the Panopticon. Observation of a single prisoner for several hours, followed by punishment for any misdemeanors, would convince all the rest of this constant vigilance. Although the contraptions such as Venetian blinds, pinholes and speaking tubes which delighted Bentham have lost some technological credibility, the general principle is readily applicable to modern methods of surveillance” [48], pp.4-5.

Upon reviewing the detailed description of the institution designed by Bentham, it is easy to see how the panoptic system supports the shift from the body to the mind, which then turns the imprisoned body's gaze inward [36]. Out of fear of punishnent, the embodied experience is to begin to self-monitor.

Although some argue Bentham's Panopticon never came to fruition, Michael Ignatieff views it as a “[s]ymbolic caricature of the characteristic features of disciplinary thinking [of] his age” [48], p. 5. Crowther argues:

[According to] Bentham, the Panopticon was not an enclosed relationship between the prisoner and the state, removed from the outside world, but a prison constantly open to public scrutiny. The contractor in his watchtower could be joined at any minute not only by magistrates, but by the prisoners' relatives, the curious, or the concerned, “The great open committee of the tribunal of the world.

This invokes two types of control of the incarcerated; according to sociology theorists, a top down approach to surveillance is referred to organizational surveillance, whereas a bottom-up approach in which the common citizen becomes the watch-guard is referred to as inverse [49]. Bentham became aware of the possible negative impact that constant surveillance of the state and the public could produce on the prisoners' sensibilities, and therefore suggested that the prisoner wear a disguise. The mask would conceal the individual's identity while each unique disguise, would represent the crime that was committed. Hence, Bentham did make a frail attempt to resolve the way in which the apparatus' constancy could impair one's well-being [48].

The Panopticon illustrated here is merely representational, as the physical apparatus of control is being reflected upon as a means of the reader relating to the modem-day ideological shift within organizational control that is designed to turn the gaze of the end-user, the prisoner, and such, to self-monitoring. Western civilization that once employed an external gaze that had previously sought a voice in politics, for instance, is being turned from outside within. According to Ann Light [36], digital technology is promoting this shift.

Section V. Discussion

A. The Impact of Bio-Tech Constancy on the Human Psyche

Whether this surveillance transpires every moment of every day [50], or just in the sanctioned individual's mind is of little importance as it is the unknown or fear of what is “ever-lurking” that has the greatest potential to negatively impact the human psyche. When the interrogator is no longer human but the receptor is a machine there is something even more demoralizing that transpires as the removing of human contact can be likened to placing the prisoner in a type of mechanical quarantine [36], [51].

Embedded surveillance devices (although currently only engineered to accommodate short-range, such as within a correctional facility), can be considered as the all-seeing pervasive eye, the interrogator. However, the individual being tracked may lack knowledge about what is on the other side; which is the receptor. This can create a greater monster than real-life as it adds insurmountable pressure due to the unknown and the inability to understand the boundaries and limitations of the surveillance technology. This becomes that much more of an infringement when the device is placed under the individual's skin. Illustratively speaking, rather than seeing it as it is, such as, a mark of servitude, a passive information bank, a personal identifier, or a location monitor, the inductive coupling device has potential to be mistakenly deemed as the predator. In support of this notion, modern-day scholars are referring to the reader as the interrogator.

As earlier stated, in this instance, the external public gaze of the community and the state will shift from the external all-seeing eye, to that which is internalized—regardless of whether the device is passive or active. Over and above Foucault's notion of self-policing, this process could be further accentuated due to the person's inability to comprehend the full purpose or limitations of the surveillance ID system in which they are under. This internalization has potential to create a feeling of “the beast within” rather than the threat being from without. The writers of this paper argue that this form of internalization of the gaze within the body will heighten the negative impact on one's psyche—ultimately negatively impacting one's state of consciousness [52].

In this sense Bentham's panoptic vision was never really defeated but now merely considered at a higher level of sophistication or barbarianism—depending on which way it is looked upon. Rather than institutions embracing practices designed to rehabilitate the prisoner, and bring the individual to an eventual state of freedom, bio-tech adoption could impair in the recovery process—its constancy heightening psychological fears—making it near impossible to ever be disabled within the mind of the end-user. Hence, as Bentham's notion of a free-enterprise is accepted on a much more hidden level, and the self turns to policing one's own actions, this utter enclosure can be argued to lead the human body to a state of utter docility. This is a subject of debate for psychologists, bioethicists and social scientists alike, and in support of the phenomenologist must also include the insider's perspective as well.

Section VI. Conclusion

Imprisonment is transpiring on many levels, and can be argued as being the system that has led Western civilization incrementally to the place it is today, where moral relativism is ruling the people, causing the moral voice of conviction designed for political and public engagement, to be displaced for a turning inward to oneself as a forms of self-expression [34]. This may be seen as the result of top-down governing institutes esteeming systematic rationale over the individuals' voice—inadvertently marginalizing the embodied-self over other forces such as the economy. As the ruling system continues to over extend its control, it ever-so-gently coerces society in one direction only, massaging the spirit of Epicureanism which endorses human passion to have it full reign over one's own body, as the final self-embodied means of conveying a message. Whereas the governing institutions can easily rule over a docile society. In this sense bio-tech with its constancy may be seen as just one more apparatus designed to control the mind—although hidden, it most certainly is invasive. With current considerations for adoption it brings Orwell's claim to the forefront when he wrote in 1984: “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull” [53], p. 27.

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53. G. Orwell, London: Signet Classic, 1984.

Keywords: Radio-frequency identification, Implants, Biomedical monitoring, Global Positioning System, Surveillance, Context, social sciences, cybernetics, prosthetics, radiofrequency identification, docile body sociology, penal metaphor, institutional top-down control, organizational top-down control, restorative health, diagnostic purpose, prosthetic purpose, RFID implants, cybernetic landscape, nanotechnology, biomedical device, sensor technology, human rights, freedom of choice, opt-out, penal control, constancy

Citation: S.B. Munn, Katina Michael, M.G. Michael, "Sociology of the docile body", 2016 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS16), 20-22 Oct. 2016, Kerala, India, DOI: 10.1109/ISTAS.2016.7764047

Location-based intelligence - modeling behavior in humans

SECTION 1. Introduction

This paper considers the specific data elements that can be gathered by service providers about telecommunications customers subscribed to location-based service (LBS) applications. Increasingly private companies are investing in location-based technologies for asset, animal and people tracking. Depending on the type of technology in use, the level of accuracy in terms of identifying the outdoor position of the subscriber can vary from cell-based identification to nearest landmark, to the pinpoint longitude and latitude coordinates of an object or subject. The application context is also important-is information being gathered about employees by an employer or is the use of the technology a voluntary option for the subscriber or their caretaker. Till now, there have been only a few cases which have ended in litigation over the accuracy of a location fix, but as the number of LBS adopters sets to grow for niche application areas, it is predicted that a greater number of conflicts may arise between the end-user and stakeholders. Liability is a key issue here, as is privacy [1].

SECTION 2. Location-based surveillance

2.1 Tracking people

“Mobility is a basic and indispensable human activity that is essential for us to be able to lead independent lives on a daily basis” [2]. Someone who is moving can be tracked manually or digitally. The information being gathered as the end-user moves around can be considered a type of “electronic chronicle” [3]. To allow oneself to be tracked can be a voluntary act, but in most cases it is imposed by a third party who has some control over the end-user. Tracking is critical in the process “of people motion capture, people behavior control and indoor video surveillance” [4]. In this paper we do not consider location information gathered using indoor tracking techniques such as knowledge representation or models of temporal correlation, although these techniques could be complementary to outdoor GPS tracking. There are also other techniques for tracking humans based on Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) [5], Wi-Fi technology such as the ‘Human Tracking and Following’ system [6], or embedded technologies [7] which all may become used in the future as a replacement or contingency technique to GPS. The Wi-Fi tracking approach employs an obtrusive technique requiring the end-user to employ active beacons on their body, as opposed to vision systems which are generally unobtrusive. In like manner, a GPS receiver in the form of a watch or handheld device clipped to a belt can be considered obtrusive [8].

2.2 Storing tracking data

Tracking data gathered by a GPS, such as route or point information, can be spatially represented in a geographic information system (GIS). The GIS may contain multiple layers of information, from civic data to administrative political data, statistical information and even non-earth unit data. The GIS can store trajectory data that is based on assumptions related to the end-user's historical speed and direction data, and static road/path segment information. Related to this idea is the notion of “digital trail libraries”, in effect the study of overlapping GPS trails and their digital storage [9]. Morris et al. explain that GPS track logs, are sequences of precise locations created by dropping a breadcrumb. While Morris' paper focuses on GPS for recreational activity, there is the potential for “private” track logs to be compared in order to find originating and terminating points of interaction between people. The outcomes of such an analysis fall into the category of location-based intelligence. Consider the potential for “collision” alerts of persons of interest. Access to the tracking data of an end-user's records requires strict policing. Hengartner and Steenkiste (2005) reaffirm that “[1] ocation is a sensitive piece of information” and that “releasing it to random entities might pose security and privacy risks” [10]. They emphasize the need for individual and institutional policies and the importance of formal models of trust.

SECTION 3. Methodology

One way to deduce some of the unforeseen consequences of GPS-based human tracking is to experience the process first hand. In this pilot study, a civilian participant tracked themselves for a period of 2 weeks using a GPS 24/7. Participant observation is where the observer “seeks to become some kind of member of the observed group” [11]. For the purposes of this study the participant represents individuals who would have their movements tracked and monitored by a third party. Measures need to be taken to ensure the participant's normal activities are not impacted in any way by carrying the GPS.

Two sets of data are to be gathered throughout this observational study: geographical co-ordinates and diary logs (table 1). The geographical coordinates will be collected through the means of a GPS device as quantitative data. However, in order to interpret this data, GIS software will be used to transform co-ordinates into comprehensible geolocations. The daily diary logs will be collected as complementary qualitative data. Each day during the study the participant will record any thoughts and opinions they may have with respect to being tracked.

3.1 Set-up

The following guidelines were used in the pilot study:

  • Daily activities–at the start of each day the GPS device is turned on as soon as the participant leaves their place of residence. At the end of each day the device is switched off.

  • Carrying the GPS device–the device is carried in the participant's bag or pocket while walking. When driving, the device is placed securely in a dock.

  • Tracking node limitation–the device is only capable of collecting 2000 tracking nodes at a time. While this is more than enough for a single day of tracking it is not enough for more than one day. Care must be taken to ensure that track data is erased at the end of each day so there will be enough memory the following day.

  • Getting a signal–it takes about one minute to get a signal, so when the device is first turned on the user will have to wait until a signal is detected.

  • Indoors–the device looses its signal when indoors so when the signal is lost at a certain location it will be assumed that the user is indoors.

  • Battery life–the manual indicates that the device can get up to 14 hours of usage on two AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries do not have enough power to keep the GPS device running throughout an entire day. Non-rechargeable batteries will be replaced when they are running low.

Table 1  Observational Instruments

Table 1 Observational Instruments

SECTION 4. Observational study

4.1 Digital breadcrumb

Figure 1  —Participant with Magellan GPS Device

Figure 1 —Participant with Magellan GPS Device

An observational study was carried out to gain knowledge about the sensitivity of location information. This study involved a civilian participant who had their daily movements tracked from Monday 15th August 2005 to Sunday 28th August 2005. The participant is a 21 year old university student who works part-time and owns a vehicle. Each day during the two weeks of the study the participant carried a Magellan Meridian Gold handheld device either in a carry bag or pocket (see figure 1). The GPS device was setup to collect location data every three seconds. At the end of each day this data was uploaded into GIS software “DiscoverAus Streets & Tracks” which was used to save and analyze the data. Throughout the entire study the observer stayed in the area of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

A great deal of information was found out about the observer by tracking them over an extended period of time. From data coordinates it is easy to deduce information such as where the participant is located at a given point in time and the speed at which they are traveling. However, more invasive personal data, such as where the participant lives, his workplace and social activities can also be found. It is also possible to create detailed profiles about the participant based on his daily travel routines. For instance, the speed at which the participant is traveling can indicate the form of transport they are using. How long they spend at a location can determine the type of activities the participant is also engaged in.

Figure 2 shows the participant's movements on day 10 of the study (24th August 2005). On this day the participant traveled from their home to the University of Wollongong, and then to their place of work. This day is typical of other weekdays in the study as the most common locations traveled were to the participant's home, University and workplace. The user's daily track movements are indicated by the thicker lines (two closed loops connected by a highway). With the GIS software it is possible to play the participant's movements in real time, to get a step-by-step and magnified view of their whereabouts. Roads, highways, train tracks and trails are clearly presented in the map. Key locations, street names and suburb names are also shown on the map. Even more data could be gathered manually or purchased to overlay onto the current details. It would be interesting also to show intersecting trails of other members of the family during the same study period. Different types of “families” or “groups” would have different types of profiles, some lending themselves to greater location movement than others, with communities-of-interest (CoI) varying widely from local, national and international travel.

Figure 2 —Participant Track Data for the Study Period

4.2 Graphical travel logs

Graphical analysis of track data also gives indications of a person's travel habits and behavior, providing that all the data is accurate and free from errors. The following graphs (figures 3–6) are meaningful representations of speed, time, distance, and elevation data collected by the GPS.

Figure 3  Time/Speed Graph: indicates speed at a specific time, when a person is traveling from one place to another, and how long the person spends at a given location.

Figure 3 Time/Speed Graph: indicates speed at a specific time, when a person is traveling from one place to another, and how long the person spends at a given location.

Figure 4:  Distance/Speed Graph indicates speed at a specific point in a journey, and whether a person is in a vehicle or walking (i.e. form of transport).

Figure 4: Distance/Speed Graph indicates speed at a specific point in a journey, and whether a person is in a vehicle or walking (i.e. form of transport).

Figure 5:  Time/Distance Graph indicates the length of time a person stays at a location, the length of time a person is on the move, and the number of places a person travels to.

Figure 5: Time/Distance Graph indicates the length of time a person stays at a location, the length of time a person is on the move, and the number of places a person travels to.

Figure 6:  Distance/Elevation Graph indicates a person's location by comparing the elevation patterns with other data.

Figure 6: Distance/Elevation Graph indicates a person's location by comparing the elevation patterns with other data.

 

SECTION 5. GPS tracking issues

5.1 Accuracy

Although not perfect in terms of accuracy of a given location fix, the GPS is generally perceived by civilians as being close to perfect. However, on several occasions in the observational study substantial errors occurred. Over the two weeks of the observational study there were six significant signal dropouts. During a signal dropout a person's location is not known. All of these dropouts occurred while the participant was traveling by car. It is likely that the GPS receiver was not positioned well enough to gain an accurate signal or traditional natural/physical factors affected the device. This kind of signal dropout could be costly in a real life scenario if a person's location was mandatory. There were also five significant speed miscalculations during the study. Speed is found by calculating the distance traveled between two points within a given time period. For example, on day 13 of the observational study the tracking information indicated a speed of 600 km/h whilst in a moving vehicle. This was found by calculating the time and location differences between two subsequent tracking points. The collected GPS data indicated the participant had traveled 0.0479884332997 kilometres in 5 seconds.

Table 3  Summary of Geolocation Trail Data

Table 3 Summary of Geolocation Trail Data

5.2 Editing track data

The GPS device used to collect location data stored tracking nodes which recorded location and time data every 3 seconds. GIS software was then used to create an entire track by joining each tracking node. However, the software also grants the user the option to add and edit tracking nodes. This feature is included to assist in navigation but could be used for other covert reasons. The use of GPS location data is surprisingly considered legitimate evidence in legal trials [12]. It is possible to convict an innocent man of a crime they did not commit by editing track data to falsify evidence. Stringent security and validation checks need to be set in place if authorities plan to use GPS track data as valid evidence in a court trial.

5.3 User travel behavior

An analysis of the track data has shown that the participants' daily movements are quite similar each week (compare figures 7 and 8, 9 and 10) and is a reflection of their daily routines and behavior. The observer took the exact same travel route whenever they traveled to a known location, like home or work, even though there are alternate routes-reflecting how habitual some humans are. The track data also reflects the participant's behavior when they are running late for a meeting or deadline (i.e. the participant accelerated their speed while walking/driving). This kind of information can be used to create intelligent systems which can observe what a person is doing and then alert systems when their behavior is out of the ordinary.

Figure 7:  Time/Speed Graph (17 August 2005)

Figure 7: Time/Speed Graph (17 August 2005)

Figure 8:  Time/Speed Graph (24 August 2005)

Figure 8: Time/Speed Graph (24 August 2005)

Figure 9:  Distance/Speed Graph (17 August 2005)

Figure 9: Distance/Speed Graph (17 August 2005)

Figure 10:  Distance/Speed Graph (24 August 2005)

Figure 10: Distance/Speed Graph (24 August 2005)

Substantial similarities can be seen between like graphs, one week to the next. Both sets of time/speed graphs indicate the participant traveled on four occasions during the same day of the week, in consecutive weeks. The distance/speed graph shows similar patterns of traveling speed. In fact, the graphs of every single weekday were almost identical one week to the next, typical of a university student pattern of behavior. The weekends did not vary that much either- an opportunity to go to work, take a break for some socializing, and return home for further study.

5.4 Detail of GIS

The GIS software used, provided details on the roads, highways and the location of major landmarks but did not show any building data. There are however, databases like MapInfo's MapMarker or the Australian Geographical National Address File (G-NAF) that could be coupled with a telemarketing list to provide a rich background layer. In this project, little could be deduced from the user's location at certain longitude and latitude coordinates (apart from what the user provided) because the supporting database was absent. The level of detail in a GIS could be made scalable to correspond with its application context. In applications which require high resolution detail, the GIS could be setup to display roads, buildings and landmarks. Conversely, if little detail is needed it could show the user's location in relation to important landmarks.

5.5 User awareness

Several days into the study the user indicated that it was easy to forget about the fact they were being tracked or observed (see section 6). Any activity that is carried out at length could easily become routine. By the end of the study the user was not concerned about being tracked but was more concerned about having to carry the device around. If GPS were to be enforced on parolees as a deterrent to crime, the participant felt it might lose effectiveness as a tool in the longer term.

5.6 Outcomes of the observational pilot study

This pilot study provided a practical perspective to the process of GPS tracking and proved that it can be accomplished with relative ease. The evidence suggests that tracking a person over an extended period of time is an invasion of privacy as GPS applications can track every detail of a person's movements. The probability of inaccuracies and the possibility of editing data poses questions about the reliability of such information. The effectiveness of GPS tracking in deterring crime may not be as great as first thought because the user may become blasé about its presence.

SECTION 6. Participant diary entries-narrative

This section is taken verbatim from the participant's diaries made between Monday 15th August 2005 and Sunday 28th August 2005. It is important to highlight some of the end-user perceptions and attitudes towards the basic GPS tracking application.

Day 1: Monday 15th August 2005

Today was the first day of tracking. Throughout the day I was very conscious of the device I was carrying. Every time I left for a new location I would check if the device was working and if I was getting an accurate reading. A person being tracked would not be too concerned whether their receiver was working or not. Although a parolee with a faulty tracking device may face immediate repercussions.

Day 2: Tuesday 16th August 2005

It would seem that my primary objective is to simply carry the device, not to track my movements. I rarely think what someone else would think. In fact, I am in a different state of mind when I am downloading and looking over the waypoints I collected that particular day. Most of the time when I am traveling from place to place I am concerned about whether the device is working, how much battery life I have left, if a signal has been picked up.

Day 3: Wednesday 17th August 2005

Running late for a meeting today I noticed that I was traveling faster than normal. Not just when I was driving but my walking pace was very fast. This behavior was projected through my physical movements which were picked up in the GPS receiver. From this experience it could be possible to create user profiles on a person being tracked. For example, analyzing the walking speed can reveal an approximate walking span and from that the approximate height of the person can be deduced. This idea may seem farfetched and outlandish but it would be an interesting experiment to conduct one day.

Day 4: Thursday 18th August 2005

A thought occurred to me while I was driving to the RTA to do my driving test for my full license. What if all cars carried a GPS or similar LBS device on board and two cars were involved in a car accident. The Driver Qualification Handbook indicates that three most common types of crashes by new drivers involve two cars in rear-end collisions, adjacent collision when turning corners and opposite collisions when turning corners. A GPS could be used to reveal what exactly happened in an accident like which person hit first and which person was traveling the fastest. If cars were being tracked there could be rules set out to provide automated emergency responses. For example, if the speed of a vehicle decelerated at an alarming rate, e.g., from 100 km/h to 0 km/h in less than a few seconds, it would be fair to say that the vehicle was involved in an accident.

Day 5: Friday 19th August 2005

While analyzing today's tracking data I have noticed that the device sometimes loses a signal when I am driving. This is most likely due to the poor placement of the receiver. If a GPS device was used to track a person, the placement of the receiver would be very important. Parolees often have GPS devices placed around their ankles leaving it very low on the body and unable to get the best signal. I think receivers need to be placed higher up on the body to ensure continuous and accurate readings.

Day 6: Saturday 20th August 2005

The mapping software I used to download my tracking data gives the option to add and edit way points or tracking nodes. It would be easy to frame a person by editing the location data and disproving any alibi they may have. I wonder about the reliability of location data collected from GPS devices alone.

Day 7: Sunday 21st August 2005

After a week of tracking I have voluntarily decided to extend the study period of personal tracking so that I will have more data to analyze. I am not concerned about tracking my movements for another week. In fact, I am eager to continue this study to get more data and to make weekly profile comparisons possible.

Day 8: Monday 22nd August 2005

I am beginning the second week of tracking today and my awareness level of the tracking of my own movements has dulled. Throughout the day I do not consciously think of myself as being tracked. At times I may check if the device is working correctly but I am not concerned about the data the device is collecting about me. I can now say that after eight days of tracking, I am used to the process, even though it is such an abnormal activity.

Day 9: Tuesday 23rd August 2005

After replacing the batteries in the device with a fresh set I have noticed the device picks up a signal much quicker than it did with a used set of batteries. This makes sense to me; the more power the device has the better it will work. However, this has ramifications for people being tracked, especially prisoners on parole who have to recharge the batteries each day.

Day 10: Wednesday 24th August 2005

It has occurred to me that the pervasiveness of GPS tracking depends on the complexity and detail of the GIS being used. The more information being displayed on a GIS such as landmarks, roads, side streets, the more information about the person's movements are available. When I analyze my own movements at the end of the day, I find myself sequentially and systematically recollecting where I went, and reevaluating my motives for being there.

Day 11: Thursday 25th August 2005

I have noticed that so far my data is fairly ‘static’, based on my weekly and daily routines. For example, I regularly travel to University and my workplace at the same time and day each week. I could also make the assumption that many people have stringent daily routines, especially people that are currently being tracked using GPS. Intelligent systems could be developed to monitor these movements automatically. The system could analyze a person's movements over a week or two and develop a personalized information system that would create user profile based on their activities.

Day 12: Friday 26th August 2005

No entry.

Day 13: Saturday 27th August 2005

The entire process of tracking my movements has become a habit. I can imagine it would be similar for any person who has to have their movements tracked. I am relieved the entire process is drawing to a close mainly because I do not have to carry around the GPS device anymore. This is not on account of the bulkiness or weight of the device (it only weighs 233 grams)- but my relief comes from the knowledge that I do not have to worry about being attached to this gadget both physically and mentally.

Day 14: Sunday 28th August 2005

Today is the final day of this study. I did not track my movements today because I stayed at home. Looking back at the previous weeks I did make an effort to travel a lot so I would have a substantial amount of data to analyze. I wonder if this will have an opposite effect on a person being tracked by a second party. Would they travel less? Would a teenager being tracked still visit places his/her parents thought of disapprovingly?

SECTION 7. Towards überveillance

Dataveillance is defined as the “systematic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions of one or more persons” [13]. M. G. Michael [14] has spoken of an emerging-überveillance-above and beyond almost omnipresent 24/7 surveillance. The problem, he has gone on to say, is that in human terms at least, “omnipresence will not always equate with omniscience, hence the real concern for misinformation, misinterpretation, and information manipulation.” In the case of the civilian participant observed in this study we cannot assume everything based on his/her location. Being located in the bounds of the “home” does not mean that the participant has gone to sleep or is inactive; while he/she is at “university” it does not mean they are studying or in class; going to “work” (which happens to be a gymnasium) does not mean the civilian is working out; visiting the location of the “unibar” does not mean the civilian was drinking anything but cola; a “signal dropout” does not presume the civilian did not take a detour from their normal route; and a “speed miscalculation” does not necessarily mean the civilian was not speeding, they may have been in an alternate mode of transportation like an airplane, train or speedboat. Thus while location can be revealing, it can also be misleading. It is important that end-users of location based services, save for law enforcement, be able to “opt-out” of being tracked, rendering themselves “untraceable” for whatever reason. Being untraceable does not mean that one is doing something wrong, it is one's right to be “left alone”, and LBS policies need to ensure these safeguards are built in to their applications. Being tracked by multiple “live” devices will also become an issue for the future. What is the true location of a person who is tracked by more than one device-the notion of moving and stationary association confidences is important here [15].

SECTION 8. Conclusion

Tracking is very invasive so care must be taken to ensure that only essential information about that person is revealed. Levels of privacy can be controlled by incorporating intelligent systems and customizing the amount of detail in a given geographic information system. If these types of measures are enforced GPS tracking can be used in an ethical manner which is beneficial to the person being tracked, not detrimental.

GPS is an effective technology and it can potentially save lives, however many current applications are not suited to it. Many groups of people rely heavily on the technology even though it is prone to inaccuracies and unreliable at times. Technological convergence may correct some of these issues but a real problem is posed if the GPS network is solely relied upon. It should be remembered that as we build more and more mission-critical applications that rely upon GPS, that the US government can shut down parts of the system in times of crisis, in addition to having already existing problems maintaining their satellites. When using any form of GPS tracking device, backup systems need to be implemented, and a Murphy's Law type mentality needs to be encouraged: If the GPS can fail, it will fail!

These findings apply to all parties which track the movements of others. These groups include police responsible for law enforcement, parole officers, caretakers of dementia patients, parents who want to track their children and employers who track their employees. These groups need to ensure that the tracking of people is done in a just and ethical fashion. It is up to the trackers to ensure that the tracking of another human is done in a way which is beneficial to the person involved and the wider community.

SECTION 9. Further research

The next phase in this research is to carry out a group observational study. The observational study in this paper was limited to a single participant but it would be interesting to track the movements of a group of people. A study like this could be used to investigate whether detailed portfolios can be created from anonymous participants based on their travel patterns. Another aim could be to create an intelligent system that would collect and analyze the movements of people automatically. In addition to an observational study several people who have had GPS tracking imposed on them could be interviewed to ascertain the emotional and psychological consequences of having a GPS tracking device attached 24/7 for long periods of time.

References

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2. K. Kayama, I.E. Yairi, S. Igi, "Semi-Autonomous Outdoor Mobility Support System for Elderly and Disabled People", International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pp. 2606-2611, 2003.
3. Pingali, R. Jain, "Electronic Chronicles: Empowering Individuals Groups and Organisations", IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo, pp. 1540-1544, 2005.
4. R. Cucchiara, C. Grana, G. Tardini, "Track-based and Object-based Occlusion for People Tracking Refinement in Indoor Surveillance", Proceedings of the ACM 2nd International Workshop on Video Surveillance & Sensor Networks, pp. 81-87, 2004.
5. G.M. Djuknic, R.E. Richton, "Geolocation and Assisted GPS" in , IEEE Computer, pp. 123-125, 2001.
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7. H-C Wang, J-C Lin et al., "Proactive Health Care Underpinned by Embedded and Mobile Technologies", Proceedings of the Fourth Annual ACIS International Conference on Computer and Information Service, pp. 453-460, 2005.
8. A. Applewhite, "What Knows Where You Are? Personal Safety in the Early Days of Wireless" in Pervasive Computing, IEEE, pp. 4-8, 2002.
9. S. Morris, A. Morris, K. Barnard, "Digital Trail Libraries", Joint ACM/IEEE Conference on Digital Libraries, pp. 63-71, 2004.
10. U. Hengartner, P. Steenkiste, "Access Control to People Location Information", ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 424-456, 2005.
11. C. Robson, Real world research, Melbourne:Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
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Keywords

Humans, Global Positioning System, Geographic Information Systems, Computer science, Monitoring, Business, Credit cards, Data privacy, Surveillance, Tracking, artificial intelligence, monitoring, object monitoring, location-based intelligence, GPS, object tracking
 

Citation: Katina Michael, Andrew McNamee, M.G. Michael, Holly Tootell, "Location-based intelligence - modeling behavior in humans",  ISTAS 2006. IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, 8-10 June, 2006, USA.