Thursday, October 09, 2008

WithoutGPS - Live tracking without GPS !!

There are quite a few websites which lets you track live if you have a GPS phone. I was curious if the "My location" feature in Google maps can be used to track the phone using only the mobile tower number information. WithoutGPS was born out of this curiosity.This was set up using code from various sources.

What is WithoutGPS?

You run an application on your smart phone, which updates your current tower information on the website which hosts the code, and you can get your position shown on google maps to anybody who has got an internet connection.

You can check my current location live at
If I am moving, the map will automatically move showing the updated position. (This site does not show properly in Chrome browser. Use IE or firefox)

How to setup WithoutGPS?

1. Right now only Nokia Symbian smartphones are supported(All S60 v2 and v3). Use the Aspicore GSM Tracker in your phone with the following settings:
HTTP protocol : On
Internet page URL :
(choose a unique username which nobody else could be using)
Send cell every time : On
Cell -> On startup tracking : On

2. This is your live tracking website :

What else can I do with WithoutGPS?

1. If you want to host this in your own site, you can download all the server side code from . Be sure to use your own Maps API key in the live.html file.

2. You can use this as a vehicle theft prevention system, by putting a sybian phone with GPRS connection always in your car. It can be setup at a hardware cost of around Rs 7500 (cost of a N72) and monthly charges of Rs 200/- (minmum voice plan + WAP over GPRS)

3. I have been running Aspicore GSM tracker on my N80 (s60v3) phone, and Airtel's mobile office plan, and it has been running without a hitch. Can anyone try out if this application works with Airtel Wap over PRS(which I think is called Airtel Online)

How exactly does WithoutGPS work?

1. The application on your phone sends the cell number of the mobile tower which you are connected to.
2. The gmaps.php script queries the google database with the cell tower information, and gets the longitude and latitude, which is recorded into a file.
3. When you click on the file, it uses the recorded information and shows it on google maps.

Future of WithoutGPS?

1. Efforts are on way so that you can specify zones - like home, office etc. And when you enter some specified zone, it will send an email (or an SMS) to some specified number.

2. Do you know of other applications which will allow http access over WAP/GPRS of the cell tower information in other phones do let me know.

3. I am not into mobile software writing, so if some one can write simple applications for uploading cell tower information, let me know, and I will post it here.

4. Your comments/suggestions/contributions/ideas/brickbats are always welcome.


dockers said...

For a low cost, scenario we should have a j2me app since java enabeled cell phones are much cheaper, that can send the cell id using sms to a website or another phone. If its another phone, then user will have to manually enter the data to a site and do the tracking. It would be even better, if this j2me app would send the request only when it gets a request thru sms to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hallo!! NICE WORK :)

Works well on 2G networks but not on 3G/UMTS, why?
In 3G networks GSM Tracker INFO returns "file not exist.400,0,0,0" Google Maps find location so there has to be cordinates fo the cells.
Can this be solved by editing script?

trouble_monger said...

Hi anonymous,

Could you try putting this link in your gsm tracker

and post the reply that you get.
please do not post your imei number, which will also be printed.

trouble monger

raze73 said...


Thanx for fast response...This is what I got:

GSM 2G Network

outcell 64607
outlac 2040
outname elisa (Name of my carrier)
outmcc 244
outmnc 05
outmode 2
incell 17362
inlac 2040
innwoname elisa
inmcc 244
inmnc 05
inmode 2

UMTS / 3G Network

outcell 17362
outlac 2040
outname (Emety) Nothing??
outmcc 244
outmnc 05
outmode 6
incell 834480
inlac 22040
innwoname elisa
inmcc 244
inmnc 05
inmode 6

I would also like to get Finnish time stamp or just UTC would do fine.
Loking a long time for something like this.


raze73 said...

I think the first post gave possition!? my homelocation..maby the new UMTS cells arent mapped yet. will drive around with the gps turned on in google maps and test later if they are mapped.
outcell 799435
incell 801253
(the rest is identical)
current time xxxxxxxx..
current date xxxx...
File dos nit exist
Not found!400,0,0,0

This is from another cell..than in the other post

trouble_monger said...

Hi raze,
the parameters from your 3g network looks just fine. May be it is just that when you tried it for the first time you were at a location which had not yet been updated in google.

To debug further could you use the link in tracker{your username} and let us see the results.

I will give you an option for providing your time offset in a couple of days.

raze73 said...

I have now been driving around with two 3g phones, one with google mobile running with the gps turned on and the other with your test php..When i drowe avay it was "No file exists" but when I drove back it said "file exsists" but there where no cordinates.. so it wount work! Why do google map find the possision and not GSM Tracker?
OK I have inputed the new test php parameters and will test it.

In a couple of days ...nice and thanx again


raze73 said...

So I have been driving around the city now with google map on one phone and your test php with my name on the other. And Google mobile got possition everywere, but the test php only returned Long/Lat when not in 3G network??? So the area is covered by google.. and It also one of the biggest cities in Finland.
Hope this helped you out so you can figgur it out.
Maby the 3G is stored in another database.
By the way dont't you have 3G in India?

All The Best


trouble_monger said...

Hi raze,

thanks for taking time to send me feedback. a couple of points:

1. you can use the server name as "" or "" interchangeably.

2. when you first enter a new cell, the infor of the cell is obtained from google and stored locally in the server. so the next time you enter the same cell, the data is taken from the stored data. this is the reason for geting "page not exists" if it is the first time that you encounter a cell.

3. one thing i forgot to mention was that you shud put an "&" at the end of the server address in tracker. for eg.

4. You can continue using gtest.php . this is the same as using gmaps.php excpet that i have added some debug prints for the user as well as the server side. Do attempt using it from 3G network a couple of times today. I will check the server logs and see if I can figure out

5. 3G has just started rolling out in a selected few cities in India. I dont have 3G in the city where i live so i didnt have a chance to test it.

6. When accessing the page , now you can pass parameters hoff and moff to specify the hour and minute offsets from gmt respectively. For eg,
shud give you turkey local time.

trouble monger

trouble_monger said...

@raze, looks like there is a problem with accessing 3G tower info. I am trying to find a work around/solution for this. Will keep you posted. Thanks for providing me the necessary data.

trouble_monger said...

@raze, in google maps app, when in 3G network, choose help -> about. At the bottom of the page it will show cell information. Could you post this info here?

raze73 said...

@trouble_monger, The funny thing is that the cell where I live is the only cell that returns a valid possition and street name in 3G mode, about 100m from my house. That is cell 834480, lac 22040, mcc 244, minc 05, mode 06, ssi 70 in tracker with gtest.php
And GMM returns in this cell;
myl: 244:5:22040:834480 same tower info as tracker.
I will post same info from work were I dont obtain pos or street name in tracker in 3G mode.

raze73 said...

Hi again!
Now it works on three cells around my work ;)
And google mobile is returning the same here as at home, only diffrent cell numbers!
I could see on my way to work that it didnt work all the way Just at home and at my work. So have you found something out?
Just let me know if there is anyting you need!

Best regards


trouble_monger said...

@raze. i think i got the problem. i have modified the gtest.php. can u just test it out with tracker in 3G mode, and see if the position shown is correct.

note that the incell shown by tracker may be different from google maps app, when ur in 3G mode.

raze73 said...


I was driving around town on my lunch brake and it worked like charm :)
It plotted me as gmm did..
Could you pleas update the zip archive when you have updated the gmaps.php
And could you pleas also include a little readme about installation. PHP,MySQL versions and server requriements and script editing to put on own server, did'nt get it to work.
You have done a incredeble nice work with this. THANX!

Best Regards

trouble_monger said...

@raze, thanks for taking interest. I was on vacation for the past few days. I will try to update the zip and the readme this weekend. I will put a comment here once it is done

raze73 said...

@trouble_monger,Whats up with the update of the zip, or new versions of withoutgps? Works great, loveing it!
But I would like to run it on my own server so if you could be kind and update the zip archive when you have some time over.

Best regards raze