Holly Logan, iN Touch Project Coordinator, San Francisco State University
When we issued iPod Touch devices to participants, we knew some would be lost or stolen. We installed the Find iPhone application on each device that would allow us to locate a missing device, send messages, lock or wipe it.
The first time a participant came to us to inform us that their iPod Touch had been stolen, we took the necessary precautions: we locked it right away, sent a message to the iPod Touch indicating it was now stolen property and waited for it to hit Wi-Fi so that we’d be able to locate it. That was the catch. In order to be able to locate or wipe the device, it had to connect to Wi-Fi. And to throw in another step, when you choose to remote wipe the device, you can no longer locate it. So you have to take your chances here and work with the participant to see if they think they will be able to ask around and locate it, or think of who could have taken it and from where, etc. That was where it was tricky: Was it really stolen and gone forever, or was it temporarily misplaced?
When our first “situation” arose, the health coach had only spoken with the participant, who had said it was stolen. We decided to lock the device remotely and wait for it to hit Wi-Fi. In the meantime, we met with the participant to see what they thought about the device’s status. We asked “Do you know who stole it? Do you think you will be able to get it back?” When we determined that the participant knew who had stolen it, that they were adamant that they would never be able to retrieve it, and that they did not feel comfortable accusing the person, we decided to remotely wipe all data from the device.
However, we followed another process if we had reason to believe that the iPod Touch was simply lost, because we knew we might be able to recover the device. This happened with one participant who called and told us she had lost her iPod Touch after a day of running errands. She had searched her house high and low and looked in her car. The last place she remembered having seen it was when she was at Target. I immediately locked the device and sent a message to it, which indicated that it was lost property and needed to be returned. Luckily the iPod Touch was going in and out of Wi-Fi, so I was able to see the location. When I told her the location, it turned out it was at her address. I asked her whether a neighbor could have taken it, or if she could have left it in her car. I had her go into each room and listen as I triggered a sound on her device. She still couldn’t find it. She decided to check her car, and I continued to play the sound. She finally heard it and found it jammed under the passenger seat of the car. Thankfully, we had decided to search for it before remotely wiping it, otherwise all of her data would have been gone forever. When a device was reported lost, we decided it was important to give it at least a week to try to locate it. After that time, and if it was still lost, we decided it was a good idea to remotely wipe it as a security measure.
Unfortunately for all of the participants whose iPod Touches were stolen, none of them were returned, and we ended up wiping them all once they hit Wi-Fi. In each instance, the Find iPhone app has turned out to be a valuable tool that allows us to take the right steps to ensure the privacy and security of the participant’s health data and to help the participant locate their device.
Images courtesy of Find iPhone app