Mapping Tube WIFI: Games Underground?
There are plenty of games and apps that make use of location to collect, check-in to or find things in the real world. They use GPS and geoIP to work out your location.
But what if you wanted to build something on The Tube (London’s underground transit system)? An app that let you collect tube stations, told you their history or even a real life version of Mornington Crescent? No GPS, no geoIP.
Since July Tube stations have started being installed with WiFi run by Virgin Media.
If there is a one-to-one mapping between tube stations and the IP address you get assigned when connected to the network then it would be possible build apps that knew your location underground.
So I’ve built a mobile web app to try and build a geoIP database of the underground. Bookmark it on your phone, and next time you are commuting you can help map the tube. In return for mapping a Tube station, you get a factoid about it.
The data everyone collects will be available here.
Note: this might not work, and yes, it is all a bit silly.
Edit (Dec 2012): It seems this isn’t possible. The IP addresses don’t seem to be fixed to stations in any reliable way.