Future of location services on OM

Gergely Imreh imrehg at gmail.com
Sat Jan 10 14:01:22 CET 2009

>> >   Previously, a few of us tried to make a fast positioning app based
>> > on GSM cell info [4-5], but we had to map the cell tower positions
>> > ourselves (pretty imprecise) and do the position discovery algorithm
>> > (I think I borked that a bit, sometimes it was good, by chance, most
>> > of the time it was very off).  Andorid uses Google's on cell database,
>> > but I'll check it out, whether we too would be able to / allowed to
>> > use that info. Will try to learn from them, not to clone, but to make
>> > less mistakes.
>> FSO has just gained a GetNeighbouringCellInformation command which may be
>> useful in this context.
> Having a database with GSM cell location informations would indeed be great.
> With the available informations you get from the framework it should be easy to
> write a small logger that does the job.

The CellLocator that we were working on was doing just this kind of
logging on FSO. The problem is that one has to interpret the data to
have the exact cell location - not something that can be done
completely automatically, as much as I tried....
Knowing the location of the cells and approximating the location is a
bit easier.

> The problem for this may come from the legal side and not the technical one.
> IIRC we had this here before. Let me try to describe the problem. To log the
> cell id you need to be booked into the cell, thus having a contract with the
> provider. Now these provider see the value of this location data and like to
> sell to interested parties thus disallow you to log it. (Hope I got this right)

I'm just curious how much this is built into the Android code. If any
Android phone can call the mothership to get the information, why
shouldn't we be able to do that? There are unlocked Andorid phones on
sale - do they have cell-based positioning disabled??? I would wager
that it isn't....  So what is the limit if is in the Android code?
Phones sold by Google? Phones supported with Android? Any phone
running Android? Any phone running an OS based on Android?

There is value in this kind of information. However logically a
provider should provide us extra service before the competition does,
in order to get all those Freerunner users onto their network. I mean
all open phone users. There are not large numbers of that at this
point, let's check a year from now. The laptop market changed
significantly within one year, and so did the attitude of a lot of
companies. What can happen in the phone market now?
Yeah, I admit, logic is not the high point of these companies, though....

> A database with wifi AP locations may be easier as 802.11 lives in the ISM band
> and thus available without a contract with some provider.

Yeah, sure, I'll check that one out too. Maybe even easier to find
such information even online, without walking the street to gather it.
The different ways can supplement each other.

>> >   I was thinking, what route you think would be more advantageous for OM?
>> >   Gpsd / gypsy / multi-provider Android-type / other? There might not
>> > be a single preferred way, and you might say that it's not the core
>> > teams responsibility. In any case, I'd be interested in your opinion.
>> > (I hope I'm not replicating a previous discussion either :)
>> For pure GPS data the current combination works well, barring implementation
>> bugs. Extra location sources would be useful for times when gps isn't
>> available. I think it would be reasonable to provide this as a dummy gps
>> device under gypsy to provide an interface to current programs. Some protocol
>> extensions could then be used to make the non-gps aspects available to
>> programs that want to use them. There would be some interesting work in
>> integrating multiple data sources
> There is also geoclue, no idea how active they are at the moment tho.
> http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/GeoClue

That looks great at first sight, cheers! I'll check it out in detail.

Best wishes,

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