Over the past few weeks, while researching other subjects, I've stumbled on multiple websites providing mobile signal coverage maps. Two days ago, I hit an excellent HSDPA vs EVDO coverage map for the US that I can't seem to locate right now. :-) Today, I stumbled on Signal Map, a very interesting US centric site that aggregates user experiences.
I know I have seen other sites that, like Signal Map, attempt to aggregate actual user experiences, for example, Dead Cell Zones. But I haven't seen anyone who's taken the next logical step in acquiring accurate user data.
Why not offer mobile phone users some downloadable handset software that automatically captures as much information as possible and sends it to a common site like Signal Map? Yes, that puts a cost on the subscriber who agrees to participate, but I know my mobile plan includes a bundle of SMS messages that I never exceed and a data plan that I don't typically exceed. If I could configure how many SMS message were sent or how much data went out per month, I'd be happy to participate in such a scheme.
This approach may be problematic in areas where SMS and/or data is expensive, but with generous bundles and the (relatively) low cost of mobile service in the US, it seems likely this scheme could work. And, one such phone might generate 20-50 reports per month, much more user created content that you are likely to get by asking users to type information into your website.
To the folks at Signal Map, what do you think?