OpenCellID is a free open-source project with the goal to collect as many GPS coordinates of GSM cell towers as possible. Sharing the same data license as OpenStreetMap, they also share similar philosophies; the OpenCellID project aims to improve everyone’s GPS localisation experience. By collecting GSM cell tower information, it increases the accuracy of asset tracking when there is little or no GPS reception available.
The GPS coordinates of GSM cell towers can be used to track mobile phones, vehicles, or any other asset. While this type of tracking, called cell localisation, is less precise than GPS, its advantage is that it works inside buildings and with devices without GPS reception.
The OpenCellID database currently contains the data of approx. 1,200,000 cells worldwide – around 120,000 in Germany alone. The project receives more than 1,000,000 new cell coordinates every day. Although this data follows the same principles as cell localisation offered by popular network operators (e.g. T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and E-Plus), it differs as it can localise a mobile phone or object in other countries.
Become a part of the OpenCellID project by collecting cell IDs through the installation of inViu OpenCellID, a simple app for your GPS mobile phone.
How OpenCellID works
The project idea is based on how mobile network providers work to deliver mobile services to their users. In order to do so, every mobile network provider uses multiple cell towers to establish its network area. Every cell tower (a.k.a. base station or Base Transceiver Station) has a unique ID number (CellID) which helps identify them amongst different mobile network providers. This CellID, which is freely transmitted from the cell tower, can easily be collected using the inViu OpenCellID app. These cell towers also transmit additional mobile provider information that can help with localisation, such as the Mobile Network Code (MNC), the Mobile Country Code (MCC), and the Location Area Code (LAC). The location of your mobile device may not be as accurate as the one found using an alternative method, such as GPS-based software; however, this proves to be a successful alternative in cases where there is no GPS reception.
How to use OpenCellID
OpenCellID is currently available as an app for Android smartphones. Simply install the app to your mobile phone and automatically start uploading cell tower information directly to the OpenCellID database. Follow up with the uploaded data by visiting our webpage and checking your data contribution on the updated map.
You can download our free application from Google Play inViu OpenCellID and start using it immediately. All you need to do is install the app on your mobile phone and click on “collect cells”. Monitor your daily cell collection and upload them by selecting “send cells to our database server.” Please note that cell measurement dispatch is totally anonymous. The ability to send measurements only when there is a Wi-Fi connection allows you to avoid extra data usage.
The license for the database
The project OpenCellID's database is under license from License CC-BY-SA . This means that the cell tower information is available free of charge for personal or commercial purposes. The data source must be specified if the information is further used.
The cell ID information that is gathered by the OpenCellID software is used under this license; hence it is available to everyone. Data that has already been collected will also be used.
At ENAiKOON, the database from the OpenCellID project is used for improved localisation, and the newly collected data is given to the OpenCellID project. For more information please visit www.opencellid.org.
The more people participate in the collection of cell information, the bigger the database will become.