Collecting private flight data on the World Economic Forum Atendees with an RTL-SDR
Every year politicians and business men meet at the “World Economic Forum” in the small mountain town of Davos, Switzerland to discuss various topics and create business deals. This year Quartz, an online newspaper/magazine sent a journalist to the forum. However, the journalist wasn’t tasked with writing a conventional story about the forum topics – instead he was asked to use an RTL-SDR to monitor the private helicopter traffic coming in and out of Davos using ADS-B data. They write that their reasoning for doing this as follows:
We went to all this trouble because there is perennial fascination with the flying habits of the 2,800 Davos delegates. Use of private aircraft, though often wildly overstated, highlights the vast wealth and power that descends upon this small skiing town in the Swiss Alps each year. And their transportation choices are frequently criticized for their environmental impact at a conference that seeks solutions to reducing carbon emissions, among other topics.
Using an RTL-SDR dongle, Raspberry Pi and ADS-B collinear antenna they monitored the flights over Davos. From the data they were able to determine the flight paths that many helicopters took, the types of helicopters used and the most popular flight times. They were able to identify 16 private helicopters that were used, although they write that some may not have had their ADS-B transponders turned on.
Hope none of the attendees find out their movements were being tracked. They may insist on outlawing “digital radios” or something equally broad to protect themselves from potential terrorists.