By Mike Butcher Friday, October 5th, 2012
We’re clearly entering a time when ‘big data’ is increasingly crowd-sourced information. There are few better examples of this than what OpenSignal (formerly known as OpenSignalMaps) is doing. Via its Android app which runs in the background and ‘sniffs’ for signal strength, it’s bringing transparency to those maps the mobile carriers put out — and an iPhone app is on the way.
It recently closed $1.3 million in seed funding from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Passion Capital and Qualcomm Ventures, and is now opening up the first version of its API and hiring new staff.
Originally built out of a co-working space in East London two years ago, OpenSignal has since been downloaded over 2 million times, building coverage maps for over 200 countries across over 1,000 different networks. They say this is the largest independent assessment of wireless coverage assembled in the world.
The API is for its NetworkRank product. It can recommend the best network in any location. This could be rolled into things like property search (e.g. check the best network for a potential new flat location) or in the ‘m2m’ space so companies can check they are on the best network before rolling out a fleet of connected devices.
Coming soon will be a cell tower API and a WiFi access point API. Finding the nearest WiFi points can be useful in consumer applications and they can both be used in e.g. providing location as a service (as they translate cell towers and WiFi points to actual co-ordinates).
Coverage maps by mobile producers are notoriously vague. And with the roll-out of LTE/4G they are going to becoming increasingly important. This is especially important in the emerging world where 4G rollouts are often happening at a faster rate than they are in developed economies due to the lack of incumbent infrastructure.
Right now the maps mobile providers offer are like having restaurants write their own reviews. OpenSignal is clearly about tho change all that.