Location Certification Systems: Evolution and Future Trends

By Samih Eisa, Miguel Pardal / 14-12-2021 / In categories Blog

blog, survey

Survey series

This is the first post in the location proofs surveys overview. We provide a short summary of a survey paper related with the core of the SureThing project: location proofs and their verification.

In today’s era of smart services, achieving trustable proof of the physical user presence at a location has become essential for various incentive-based and location-aware services on smart devices. This feature allows mobile users to submit valid and trusted location information to service providers preventing their locations from being spoofed or stolen by malicious users who may aim at gaining access to a service or reward on behalf of the honest users.

Various applications and use cases require proof of location, ranging from applications that require proof of a single location to applications that require proof of a travel path containing location history or even location activity summaries of the users.

Location proofs and certification systems allow any party in the smart service to independently verify location data and authenticity of the users. The design basis of these systems initially started with centralized architecture that requires a central node, such as a wireless access point (AP), to generate Location proofs (LPs) or certificates for users in specific location. However, it suffers from scalability and dependency on trusted third parties to validate and generate location proofs or certificates. This has led to a distributed architecture, also called witness-oriented models, in which three or multi-party entities are involved in the generation process of the location certificates.

However, the possibility of cheating or colluding with other participants in the witness-oriented models is exists and current solutions are exploring technologies like Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to mitigate and address the security, privacy and collusion issues in these models. These technologies provide various interesting features, such as tamper-resistance, non-repudiation, and chronological order, and do not require any dependency on trusted third parties, making them ideal for location proofs and certification systems, particularly, for systems that adopt location provenance use cases.

Location proofs and certification systems have evolved over the years, covering a wide range of application domains resulting in tremendous deployed systems and prototypes.

Stay tuned and your feedback is welcome!