Ways to Track a Cell Phone

By Jeff Stein

Being able to track a cell phone during an emergency can be life-saving. You may need to track a cell phone for several serious reasons, such as concern for the safety of your child or of an employee. Or you may need to recover a lost or stolen cell phone. You can track a cell phone by using Global Positioning System technology, network triangulation and location-based services.

GPS Tracking

GPS tracking is one of the most accurate ways to find the location of a cell phone. It uses GPS in conjunction with the three network towers closest to the cell phone. This method requires that the cell phone be GPS-enabled or have a GPS chip installed. Smart phones come with GPS built in. You'll also need to download and install GPS tracking software onto your computer. Such programs are available online and from wireless service providers. Once the software is installed and activated, you'll be able to determine the location of the cell phone. GPS tracking works only when the cell phone has a signal.

Cell Network Triangulation

Network triangulation is a method used by wireless providers to track a cell phone. It works only when your cell phone is turned on and has sufficient signal strength to make a call. The location of a cell phone is determined in relation to the three nearest cell towers. Mobile networks can find the location of the cell phone within approximately 110 yards.

Location-Based Services

Location-based services work with GPS-enabled cell phones and allow you to connect with friends and obtain information on places that are nearby. The customer must allow access by responding to an encrypted message sent by the wireless provider. Companies that offer location-based services work with various wireless service providers and are authorized to give you the last known location of the cell phone. The service won't function if the cell phone is off or is not in an area where it receives service.