On the Feasibility of Using Two Mobile Phones and WLAN Signal to Detect Co-Location of Two Users for Epidemic Prediction

  • Khuong An NguyenEmail author
  • Zhiyuan Luo
  • Chris Watkins
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


An epidemic may be controlled or predicted if we can monitor the history of physical human contacts. As most people have a smart phone, a contact between two persons can be regarded as a handshake between the two phones. Our task becomes how to detect the moment the two mobile phones are close. In this paper, we investigate the possibility of using the outdoor WLAN signals, provided by public Access Points, for off-line mobile phones collision detection. Our method does not require GPS coverage, or real-time monitoring. We designed an Android app running in the phone’s background to periodically collect the outdoor WLAN signals. This data are then analysed to detect the potential contacts. We also discuss several approaches to handle the mobile phone diversity, and the WLAN scanning latency issue. Based on our measurement campaign in the real world, we conclude that it is feasible to detect the co-location of two phones with the WLAN signals only.


Epidemic tracking Co-location WLAN tracking 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on the paper. This research is funded by the Computer Science Department of Royal Holloway, University of London, and EPSRC grant EP/K033344/1 (“Mining the Network Behaviour of Bots”).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceRoyal Holloway, University of LondonSurreyUK

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