WifiMapper and the wonders of data collection

If you’re already enjoying of WifiMapper on your phone, you might know that it is the world’s largest Wi-Fi community – of which you are now part! Indeed, WifiMapper is powered by a database of more than 650 millions Wi-Fi points, crowdsourced by our OpenSignal and WifiMapper users. That means that just by having WifiMapper on your phone, chances are that you’re helping increase the number of Wi-Fis in the database, making the app better for yourself and your fellow users.

Wondering what kind of data WifiMapper collects and how we do it? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Foreground and background data collection

On iPhone devices, data collection only takes place when the app is open. However, things get more interesting if you’re running the app on an Android phone, as you can also collect data on the background. In fact, the app is set to do so by default, though you can disable this feature on the Settings. Simply uncheck the box next to the option to “Automatically collect Wifi locations for the WifiMapper community”.

Say yes to background data collection!

Say yes to background data collection!

What we collect

While on iOS the data that the app can collect is limited to the SSID, BSSID and location of the Wi-Fi you’re connected to, once again the Android platform offers more collection possibilities. The data obtained enables us to create your personal stats page and can lead to a better understanding of Wi-Fi usage. It includes, among other things, the lapse of time spent on each Wi-Fi, the amount of data used and environmental variable readings taken at the beginning and the end of each session (such as pressure, magnetic flux, etc.). We’re currently working on data export capabilities that will allow you to save all your data to your SD card, to produce your own analyses and maps if you so wish!

The permissions we need for this

Some of the app’s permissions might have struck our Android users as a bit odd. They are in fact requested in order to collect the data mentioned above:

  • Device ID and call information: the device ID is employed exclusively for stats purposes. Set against the dataset, it lets us know how many people have seen a certain WiFi, where the data is coming from, etc. Your call information is never viewed and indeed not even needed, but because of the way Google groups permissions together, it is impossible to request access to your device ID without also asking for you call info!
  • Photos/Media/Files: it is only the “Files” bit in this case that we care about. To include in the app the data export capabilities that we’re currently working on, we need permission to save data to your SD card — that is, your files.
  • Identity: this enables Google+ login, which in turn allows you to share with us — and the community — your comments on Wi-Fi points.

Become a champion of data collection

If data collection is your thing, you might be pleased to know that in future versions the Android app will include a leaderboard of the users who have discovered and commented on more Wi-Fi hotspots. Any edits and comments that you leave now will already add up to your total. So, better not loose any time… get out there and start collecting!

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One Response to WifiMapper and the wonders of data collection

  1. davo says:

    As a developer, there is anyway to access to your data to use in another development?

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