Future of location services on OM

Stefan Schmidt stefan at openmoko.org
Sat Jan 10 14:42:05 CET 2009


On Sat, 2009-01-10 at 21:01, Gergely Imreh wrote:
> >
> > 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.

What is the problem of interpreting the the data that can not be done
automatically? Ideally, legal issues aside, I would like to see something like

1) Start logger, listens for new GSM cell and AP updates in background.
2) Takes the data and put it in a local storage.
3) Syncs up to a server on user request. New data is available both on the
server and the local storage.

> > 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?

IT all comes down on service contracts on such data. I bet google has a lot of
contracts for this. And you sign up a google account when using the android OS.

> > 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.

Jan and me did some search on this topic. All database we found, which have been
many, had a license that did not suit our needs. Either you are only able to get
the infos when sending the AP informations to them and get infos back or you
have some other restrictions of the usage in the license.

Stefan Schmidt

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