Survey: Digital gadgets take a back seat--and stay there

Pointsec Mobile Technologies Inc. has discovered where lost electronic devices go: They wind up in the back seats of taxis all around the world.

A survey of 935 cabbies in nine countries turned up 85 notebook computers, 227 personal digital assistants and 2,238 cell phones lost in cabs in the last six months, according to the Walnut Creek, Calif., security company.

Chicago, where 113 drivers for the Wolley Yellow Cab Co. were interviewed, was the national leader in lost PDAs. The city ranked second behind London in lost PCs and second behind Copenhagen, Denmark, in lost phones.

'Based on the size of Chicago's fleet [25,000 cabs], the statistics indicate a staggering 85,619 mobile phones, 21,460 PDAs and Pocket PCs and 4,425 laptops were left in licensed cabs during the six months covered in the study,' Pointsec reported.

'The popularity of mobile devices is increasing at a rapid rate, but people have not been educated about the importance of securing them,' a company spokesman said.

Pointsec sells encryption to protect data stored on mobile digital devices.

The survey was the second one conducted by the company, and it shows a sharp increase in the number of lost devices since the original survey in 2001.

'It is alarming to see that the problem has accelerated,' said Pointsec CEO Peter Larsen. 'Mobile users are in an even worse position now because they are far more reliant on their mobile devices to store large amounts of sensitive information with very few concerned about backing it up or protecting it.'

Copenhagen appears to have the most forgetful cell phone users, with 719 phones left behind in 100 cabs in a six-month period. Chicago riders left behind 387 in the same period. Ninety-seven PDAs were reported lost in Chicago, as were 20 notebooks. London cabbies reported 23 laptops left behind.

Electronics are not the only things being left behind in cabs, of course. Drivers reported finding everything from pets and underwear to diamonds and a baby. One Chicago driver found a violin case in his cab. No word on what was actually in it.

Cities where drivers were surveyed were Chicago; Copenhagen, Denmark; Helsinki, Finland; London; Munich, Germany; Oslo, Norway; Paris; Stockholm, Sweden and Sydney, Australia.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.