The fact that almost everyone uses a cell phone these days is nothing new or unusual, but imagine being able to look at a map that shows you how many people are actually using their cell phones and where you can locate them. It's now possible, thanks to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Italy's main telephone operator, Telecom Italia. Check out the news story: "When in Rome, you might be tracked."
The MIT and Telecom Italia project, called Real Time Rome, is based "on a real-time mapping system that tracks how people move in urban spaces." According to the article, "The MIT technology maps real-time data gathered from mobile operators and transportation authorities to create a bigger, location- and population-based picture." In the picture below, the red shows the density of mobile operators and the yellow shows the bus transportation.
"Real Time Rome is also being used to figure out how tourists in Rome move throughout the city and can show where spikes in the volume of calls happen. One sample image from the project, for example, shows spiked cell phone usage around Olympic Stadium in Rome and the Vatican during Madonna's infamous on-the-cross appearance last month."
Click here to view the entire photo gallery.
Who else is completely blown away by these images? How freakin' cool (and a little creepy) is THAT?! One thing that I'd like to know is if this mapping technology will become so refined that we'll be able to track down mobile operators who are talking on their cell phones while driving. If so, laws that forbid this kind of activity will be easier to enforce.
Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.