Friday, July 01, 2011

Microsoft makes the source available for the app that's going to be used for Bing's Streetside Wi-Fi/Cell Tower/GPS data gathering (i.e. see some of the code the Bing Streetside cars will be using as they [war]drive around your neighborhood)

WinRumors - Microsoft open sources Bing Streetside Wi-Fi data collection software

"Microsoft shared the source code for its managed driving data collection on Friday.

The code is used to collect data from cell towers, Wi-Fi access points and GPS to build a positioning database for Windows Phone, Bing and other Microsoft products and services. Microsoft started to collect mapping data in early April for its European Bing Maps Streetside imagery. Dave Coplin, director of search for Microsoft UK, spoke to WinRumors on Thursday about the decision and revealed that it is very much in the interests of public privacy. Copin explained that Microsoft has been working with the ICO and privacy lobby in the UK to establish a best practice to collect Wi-Fi data. The organizations wanted assurances that Microsoft would not collect data by mistake in the same way that Google did previously.

Microsoft is now preparing to collect Wi-Fi data in its Bing mapping cars. The software giant uses Windows Mobile 6.5 devices to collect the data and the software was developed by the Windows Phone Engineering team. The source code, released here, uses publicly documented APIs to access cell tower, Wi-Fi access points and GPS data. “The software does not intercept wireless data transmissions from consumers’ computers (so called “payload” data),” says Microsoft’s Reid Kuhn, Partner Group Program Manager of the Windows Phone Engineering Team.


MSDN Code Gallery - Managed Driving Data Collection

"Resource Page Description
As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to consumer privacy, we are providing more transparency about how we gather information through managed driving to provide location-based services. We are sharing relevant portions of our data collection software source code that demonstrates both the type and amount of data we collect through managed driving.

The information collected during Managed Driving includes Cell tower, Wi-Fi and GPS data. The collected data is used to build a positioning database that helps create location capabilities and services for Windows Phone and other Microsoft products and services.

The code has been written using a combination of native and managed code, and uses publicly documented interfaces for accessing Cell tower, Wi-Fi and GPS data. The software only detects management frame subtypes called probe request frames, which do not contain any personal user content. The software does not observe or collect any data frame packets, which are the type of Wi-Fi packets that may contain user content transmitted over a network nor does it attempt to connect to any open networks. The software only observes information that is publicly broadcasted by the Cell tower, Wi-Fi access point and GPS satellites. The information we collect includes elements like latitude, longitude, direction, speed, mobile country code, mobile network code, location area code, cell identifier and only specific Wi-Fi information such as BSSID (i.e, the Media Access Control aka MAC address), signal strength, and radio type.

During the collection process, we collect and retain only as much Wi-Fi access point data as necessary to build our positioning database, and none of data collected is associated with personally identifiable consumer information. " [GD: Description leached in full]

Here's a snap of the Solution. Got to love a project that includes a "WarDrivingLibrary." 


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