Honorary Fellow Dr Roba Abbas

Dr Roba Abbas is an Honorary Fellow with the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She completed her Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded Doctor of Philosophy on the topic of Location-Based Services Regulation in 2012, earning special commendations for her thesis titled Location-Based Services Regulation in Australia: A Socio-Technical Approach.

Abbas also graduated with first class Honours and Distinction in Information and Communication Technology (majoring in Business Information Systems) from the University of Wollongong Australia in 2006, earning a place on the Faculty of Informatics Dean's Merit List.

She has a strong interest in socio-technical theory, social media, and location-enabled technologies. Abbas has co-edited the Privacy and Security Issues in Social Networks section in the Encyclopedia of Social Network Analysis and Mining, and has previously co-edited a special issue in Cases on Information Technology on the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies. Abbas has written numerous papers most recently for Computer Law and Security Review and IT and People. She has also lectured and tutored in ICT, and has over five years industry experience in product management and enterprise information architecture.

See also: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/06/11/2922784.htm

Tracking apps could 'undermine trust'

Dr Roba Abbas is interviewed by ABC Science Online here.

Keeping track of loved ones

In the pilot study, participants were interviewed after a period of carrying the GPS devices with them wherever they went, keeping a manual diary of their location and observing the difference.

In some cases, people thought tracking technology could be useful for providing evidence to a partner on their whereabouts.

"Today I was supposed to finish work at 9, but being Easter I didn't get out until 10. When I got to my boyfriend's house he questioned me about where I'd been," said one participant.

"I was able to say 'check the [device] if you don't believe me'. I then realised that in a situation where you had to prove you had been somewhere, the [device] could be used as evidence."

One participant also thought a small version of the device could be used to covertly collect evidence against a potentially guilty partner.

But participants became worried when they discovered the loggers were not always accurate, sometimes recording their location a street away from where they actually were.

Abbas says they were uneasy about the possibility of inaccurate location information being used against someone.

Another participant said, "The [device] has the potential to ruin people's lives because it has the potential to give an incorrect location. For example, if a husband were to track his wife's car, she may have gone shopping, but it's showing the location of the car in the street next to the shopping centre, this could cause many trust issues to arise unnecessarily."

Abbas' research has also found concerns about the ability of people to tamper with the tracking technology and "lie" about where they are.

IEEE ISTAS10 Incorporating Local Student Talent at UOW

I could not have been more proud of my four PhDs presenting at IEEE ISTAS10. I could not have hoped for a more hardworking group of research students. Anas, Roba and Jennifer received their PhDs a few years ago now, and Alex is at the final stages of writing up (he was a few days into his PhD when he presented at ISTAS)! Among the remaining highlights were my two Social Impact of Technology students, Haralambos and Belinda who presented on emerging location based social networking apps. Belinda accompanied me to a lecture delivered by Professor Kevin Warwick at the University of Sydney a few months before ISTAS-- and these third year students could well have gone into research had they not been snapped up by industry. Looking back, I reflect on the professionalism of all my students.