Some more Tweets from William Gibson, ideas from which may,or may not be included in the published version of Zero History:
Fri Dec 11 18:01:41 +0000 2009
Query: Is there CCTV on the Scrubs, London? Not the prison; the wide open ground nearby. Wardens? Police presence at 2AM?
Fri Dec 11 18:04:38 +0000 2009
Would my brand of corporate spooks logical choose the late-night Scrubs for something private? It's an attractively atmospheric venue...
Fri Dec 11 18:36:31 +0000 2009
Thnx Scrubs advisors. I love it that it was the dueling ground. And such an anomaly in terms of undeveloped land.
Wikipedia entry for Wormwood Scrubs, which mentions its use as a duelling ground.
The large site is surrounded on 3 sides by railway lines and depots, and, to the south by public buildings buildings i.e. Her Majesty's Prison Wormwood Scrubs, the Linford Christie sports stadium and Hammersmith Hospital part of Imperial College,University of London, and the Tube stations are likely to have security guards and CCTV camera systems, but none of these will be doing much, if any, surveillance of the the large open space /park.
The western side of the Wormwood Scrubs Park is effectively unfenced, but does have lots of residential houses on the opposite side of Braybrook Street and Old ok Common Lane, so there are plenty of potential observers, even at 2 am in the morning.
Dead Letter Drops and Geocaches
Depending on what sort of clandestine meeting or other activity in the middle of the night at 2am the "corporate spies" are up to, the Wormwood Scrubs site has pros and cons.
The access / exit routes by road are constrained by the railway lines and public buildings, making it easier to see if someone is following them to the location, but it might be a problem if a quick getaway is needed, as only a few watchers or roadblocks would be needed set up a surveillance or security cordon around the area.
A very good idea of how suitable the area is for classic dead letter drops as used by spies etc., can be gleaned from the number of local Geocaches there are in the area, as the location criteria for these are very similar i.e. easy to be found by those in the know, but not liable to accidental disturbance by wildlife or by human vandals or thieves, and not observed by CCTV etc.
Geocaches around Wormwood Scrubs Park W12 0DF
The half a dozen or so Geocaches in the Wormwood Scrubs Park area, imply that this is probably quite a good place for "dead letter drops" for "corporate spooks".
Mobile Phone Location Based Services / Communications Data tracking
Since the "corporate spooks" in William Gibson's novels are usually well aware of the local telecommunications infrastructure, the fact that this part of London has about 50 Cellular Mobile Phone Base Stations within 2 square kilometres, will give an idea of how accurately a Location Based Services position fix can done on any particular Mobile Phone Handset (or the various sorts of Moble Phone based electronic tags attached to people or tracking devices attached to vehicles etc.) in the area.
Ofcom Sitefinder Mobile Phone Base Station Database for Post Code W12 0DF - Wormwood Scrubs (they make this database deliberately hard to link directly to, for various unconvincing reasons)
Even on a simple Cell ID basis, a Mobile Phone Handset within this Wormwood Scrubs area will be located, in real time during the Start or End of a Voice or SMS Text Message or Internet Data call, to within a couple of streets.
With triangulation between Base Stations, the accuracy of a Location Based Data fix will be a couple of metres, remembering , of course that there will also be poor reception "dead zones", where there is little or no signal.
In those marginal radio reception areas, the Mobile Phone Handset will automatically boost its transmission power (thereby shortening its battery charge) to try to re-establish an adequate signal.
It will do this every 5 or 10 minutes, not just with the actual Base Station it has a reserved Time Slot established with, but it also measures the signal strength to and from the half a dozen or so neighbouring candidate Base Stations, since one of them may have to take over the connection, if the handset is on the move.
This happens regardless of whether there is an incoming or outgoing voice or data call or not, provided that it is still switched on. This network handshake update frequency is set by the Mobile Phone Network. In theory, it could be made much more frequent e.g. every few seconds, if the system is being used by the Authorities to try to follow someone remotely, in near real time, who is carrying a mobile phone - like they falsely appear to do routinely in so much TV and Film fiction. Obviously this technique can also be of use when they are hunting for a Mobile Phone Activated Bomb etc.
The statistics on how many illegal Mobile Phones are found each year within HMP Wormwood Scrubs and other Prisons, are astonishing.
See the SpyBlog.org.uk Mobile Phones in Prisons blog category archive
Over half of all Emergency Services calls to the Police, Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services are made from Mobile Phones, so simply jamming such signals in Prisons, something which might be acceptable in the wide open spaces of the USA or Canada, would be a disaster for the local area around Wormwood Scrubs in densely populated London .
One of the popular methods of getting such illegal mobile phones and drugs into a Prison is to wrap them up in some bubblewrap etc., and simply throw them over the walls of the Prison.
Potentially, there could well be people lurking around HMP Wormwood Scrubs, intent on doing this, at 2am in the morning, which is something that William Gibson's "corporate spooks" should be aware of.