Unwired Insight recently reported about interesting projects going on at the moment for the crowd to report on cellular network coverage:
The first one is a project by the BBC to get an independent view on the network coverage of the networks in the UK. It's based on an Android App that takes coverage readings in the background and reports them back to a central server in the network.
The second project is more global in nature and is called Open Signals Maps and aims at mapping wireless coverage globally. Like the BBC approach it also uses an Android app that runs in the background. The results can be seen immediately on their website. I had a go for a number of places all over Europe I am about to go to in the next weeks and found that for each, data already exists. A great tool for travelers, especially when visiting small towns in the countryside to see if there is good 3G coverage available or only 2G and from which network operator. Also it spares one the trouble of looking for coverage maps on individual network operator web sites, if they are available there at all.
What both approaches are not saying, however, is who the collected data belongs to? To the community reporting in or to the companies running the project?
If the data behind the maps frontend is available it might also be an interesting pool of information for national telecum regulation bodies and IT/consumer publications to compare different national networks with each other, to compare network deployments of different countries with each other, etc. etc.