Privacy-preserving relative location based services for mobile users

Ning Fei, Yi Zhuang, Jingjing Gu, Jiannong Cao, Liang Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Location-aware applications have been used widely with the assistance of the latest positioning features in Smart Phone such as GPS, AGPS, etc. However, all the existing applications gather users' geographical data and transfer them into the pertinent information to give meaning and value. For this kind of solutions, the user's privacy and security issues might be raised because the geographical location has to be exposed to the service provider. A novel and practical solution is proposed in this article to provide the relative location of two mobile users based on their WiFi scanned results without any additional sensors. There is no privacy concern in this solution because end users will not collect and send any sensitive information to the server. This solution adopts a Client/Server (C/S) architecture, where the mobile user as a client reports the ambient WiFi APs and the server calculates the distances based on the WiFi AP's topological relationships. A series of technologies are explored to improve the accuracy of the estimated distance and the corresponding algorithms are proposed. We also prove the feasibility with the prototype of Circle Your Friends System (CYFS) on Android phone which lets the mobile user know the distance between him and his social network friends.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7112037
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalChina Communications
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • CYFS
  • privacy-preserving
  • relative location

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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