Last week I lamented the sketchiness of most wireless signal coverage maps and went on to suggest someone should "Use handset software to build mobile coverage maps." Now Shai Berger has pointed out someone who's already doing just that. It's Navizon from Mexens Technology. Their focus is wireless positioning, i.e. determining your location, but their approach includes downloadable software for smartphones, PDAs and handheld PCs.
Mexens is the provider of the first positioning system that combines WiFi, Cellular and GPS information. The Wireless Positioning System triangulates signals broadcasted from Wi-Fi access points and Cellular towers to help users find their way in most major metropolitan areas worldwide.
It is based on a collaborative network called Navizon. This is why we like to describe it as a peer-to-peer positioning system. Our users are sharing information about the position of WiFi access points and cellular towers, and by doing so, they keep our map of the Wireless landscape up-to-date.
And they offer such information in the form of a Google Maps mashup! Here's their take on mobile cell sites in a western part of Newton, Massachusetts USA.
With software on the WiFi enabled mobile devices they can capture every WiFi signal any of their contributors pass. Here's their map of WiFi signals on the northern edge of Natick Massachusetts. Red are secure access points and green are unsecure, i.e. open, access points.
Clearly, Navizon participants have driven through the area, but no one has gone into the residential neighborhoods, as I'm confident this community is riddled with broadband users and residential access points.
While the website is in English, coverage is global. Here are 200 of the more than 37K signals they've mapped in this part of London:
And 200 of more than 87K signals mapped in western Paris:
This is fascinating! But I have other things to do now, so I'll print out their 20 page white paper to read at a later point.