Perturbed-Location Mechanism for Increased User-Location Privacy in Proximity Detection and Digital Contact-Tracing Applications

Elena Simona Lohan, Viktoriia Shubina, Dragoș Niculescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Future social networks will rely heavily on sensing data collected from users’ mobile and wearable devices. A crucial component of such sensing will be the full or partial access to user’s location data, in order to enable various location-based and proximity-detection-based services. A timely example of such applications is the digital contact tracing in the context of infectious-disease control and management. Other proximity-detection-based applications include social networking, finding nearby friends, optimized shopping, or finding fast a point-of-interest in a commuting hall. Location information can enable a myriad of new services, among which we have proximity-detection services. Addressing efficiently the location privacy threats remains a major challenge in proximity-detection architectures. In this paper, we propose a location-perturbation mechanism in multi-floor buildings which highly protects the user location, while preserving very good proximity-detection capabilities. The proposed mechanism relies on the assumption that the users have full control of their location information and are able to get some floor-map information when entering a building of interest from a remote service provider. In addition, we assume that the devices own the functionality to adjust to the desired level of accuracy at which the users disclose their location to the service provider. Detailed simulation-based results are provided, based on multi-floor building scenarios with hotspot regions, and the tradeoff between privacy and utility is thoroughly investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number687
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Digital contact tracing
  • Location privacy
  • Multi-floor areas
  • Perturbation mechanism
  • Proximity detection

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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