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It has recently been announced that a code of practice has been drawn up by the five British mobile networks in conjunction with the Home Office, police and other interested stakeholders, which governs the way in which companies can utilise the data collected by the mobile phone networks in order to locate the position of a mobile phone user. The new Code of Practice is an updated version of an original set of guidelines released by Vodafone last year.

This move has been welcomed by Mapaphone (www.mapaphone.com), the mobile phone tracking service operated by Mapbyte Ltd, who since launching last year have followed this code of practice, recognising early on the importance of adopting strict processes and controls surrounding the utilisation of mobile location data.

‘Upon entry into the location based services market, we immediately took on board the differing guidelines provided by each of the network operators, ensuring that we consistently offered our customers safe and secure mobile phone tracking services’ said Emma Hardcastle, managing director of Mapbyte. ‘The introduction of this code of practice will ensure that all companies operating in the mobile phone tracking industry operate in accordance with one consistent set of principles’.

These new guidelines provide an excellent backdrop for companies operating in the location based services arena, businesses can be safe in the knowledge that they can locate their employees safely and securely.

For example the code of practice, dictates a minimum number of random text messages which are required to be sent to the handset of those individuals being tracked, reminding them that they have agreed to be located. In the case of employees being located by their employer, a signature must be obtained from the employee indicating their consent to be located.

The guidelines set out strict rules about the information that parents must
provide to LBS providers in order to be able to track a child. Such as home address, credit card details and children are now able to opt out of being located by their parents.

“Mapaphone parents have always been required to return a signed form, provide all the details now required, and enter a unique PIN code into their child’s phone. The new code of practice tightens up these procedures even further – which can only be welcomed by all.” Added Hardcastle.

If you would like to interview Emma Hardcastle, MD of Mapbyte Ltd or require comment on mobile phone location services please call Karen Durham-Diggins on 020 8989 2541 or email kdd@easynet.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

About Mapaphone:

Mapaphone is the mobile phone location service from www.mapminder.co.uk, the UK’s award winning mapping and routing site. Using the latest mobile phone tracking technology, Mapaphone lets you co-ordinate and control your field teams or locate loved ones.

Mapaphone sits inside the Mapminder platform which incorporates a number of additional features to help manage a business, including a personalised address book, an excellent route planning tool, Mapminder for Outlook, business groups functionality – so information can be shared amongst colleagues in a secure environment and The Guide a unique service which includes over 60,000 points of interest including car parks, hotels, public transport information and petrol stations.

Mapminder is published by Mapbyte Ltd, which was established in August 2000 to create and manage location based services over web and mobile platforms. It's Vega system - a fully featured, real-time asset tracking, tracing and reporting solution - has been operating
for two years.

Mapbyte is part of Current Science Group www.sciencenow.com - a group
of publishing and technology companies.

Sign up procedure:
Depending on your requirements, choose between a monthly or an annual subscription.

MAPAPHONE CONSUMER:
Mapminder.co.uk is currently offering free membership for 30 days, after which charges for subscribing to mapminder.co.uk are as follows:
_ Monthly charge £2.95
_ Quarterly charge £7.95
_ Annual charge £24.95

About Mapaphone
Sign up procedure:
_ Users must first register on www.mapminder.co.uk
_ Once registered, click on the Mapaphone icon and follow the prompts to open a Mapaphone account – see costs below
_ Click on the ‘add mobile/credit’ icon to add in details of the mobiles to be traced – users are asked for a nickname, mobile number and unique four digit code for each phone
_ For security, users are asked to select their relationship to the mobile owner. Parents are required to provide written consent by fax or post to mapminder.co.uk. The consent form is an easily accessible PDF format
_ Mapminder.co.uk will then send a PIN to the users home address. This must be entered into the mobile and back via SMS to confirm the mobile is available to be polled

Costs for the Mapaphone service:
_ The set-up cost for the first phone is £5 (if bought at the time of mapminder subscription). Thereafter, the cost is £10 per phone
_ Price includes five free polls (location requests) each poll then costs 20p
_ SMS (text) messages, from the site to any mobile, are 7p each

Each poll or text message fee is deducted from the users Mapaphone credit, which can be topped up at any time.   Accuracy for the service varies depending on the network and location but is to within an average of 300m in urban areas and 1km in rural areas.

MAPAPHONE BUSINESS:
Monthly Subscription

£5 per month (excl. VAT)
This includes the tracking of up to 5 mobile phones, additional phones can be added at the cost of £5 per phone per annum (excl. VAT).

Annual Subscription

£50 per annum (excl. VAT)
This includes the tracking of up to 10 mobile phones, additional phones can be added at the cost of £5 per phone per annum (excl. VAT).

By law you must gain the consent of those employees you are wanting to track. To do this simply download a copy of the ‘Employer and Employees consent to telephone polling’ form asking the employees using the phones you are wishing to track to sign it, agreeing to be located. Fax this form back to us and we can activate the Mapaphone service.

Location Credits:

Mapaphone
No. of location credits Price per location credit Total Cost Saving Competitor’s price per location request
10 20p £2 50p
100 19p £19 5% 35p
500 18p £90 10% 25p
1,000 16p £160 20% 20p

* Text messages to a mobile phone from the site are charged at 7p each and are deducted from the available credit in the Mapaphone account.

Technical requirements:
Mapaphone is available on O2, Vodafone and Orange.
Windows based PC and Internet Explorer 5 and above.

Published on: 12:00AM on 4th October 2004