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Privacy-preserving crowd monitoring A WiFi-tracking project

Living Smart Campus

Project information

The project

We examine how to safely and responsibly collect WiFi tracking data such that it is virtually impossible to track an individual. In this way, we want to prevent the needless and privacy invasive WiFi tracking of smartphones as seems to increasingly become common practice in many cities.

The work is primarily done at the UT, in collaboration with Enschede and the University Polytehnica Bucharest (UPB), as well as with Bluemark Innovations.

We anticipate several solutions for safely tracking WiFi-enabled devices, but also solutions for gathering data sets of scanned devices from which it is virtually impossible to find out who the owner of a device is. To the end, we need to address several hard problems, including storing data such that even the storage servers may be compromised without harming the preservation of privacy, as well as securing collected MAC addresses in a privacy preserving manner. It is unclear as yet whether we will be able to succeed.

how to collaborate

There are several ways to collaborate, mostly by helping out on data sets: securing them and other hand trying to break our security solutions.

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Research and analysis

My project updates

11 Dec 2017

WiFi scanners up-and-running

After a lot of efforts to see how we could get WiFi scanners working, we finally managed to solve two important issues:

  • Getting batteries attached to the scanners that are powerful enough, and that are charged while there is current to feed the lamp post to which the scanner is connected.
  • Get the scanners to talk over eduroam in order easily collect data.

The goal of this research is to make sure that we can ask interesting questions, notably about the flow of pedestrians across the campus, while completely preserving privacy. The details of our initial method will be explained soon, once we have run the first privacy tests.

6 Apr 2017

Outdoor scanners being tested

We finally, after a very long time, managed to get the equipment for installing outdoor scanners. The problem was that outdoor scanners need to be placed at convenient places, meaning also that they need to be powered. Lamp posts are ideal, but when the lights are switched off, so will our scanners. The solution is using powerful batteries that are (fully) charged during the night. We are now running tests to see if we can have a scanner operate 24/7, partly powered through a 20 Ah battery. Once successful, we'll start installing some 70 scanners around the campus.

Stay tuned.