Microsoft open sources Bing Streetside Wi-Fi data collection software

By Tom Warren, on 1st Jul 11 7:51 am with 11 Comments

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.

Microsoft will use the data for services that Windows Phone and Bing use, including search results, weather, movie times, maps and directions based on a device’s current location. Coplin also explained that the data will be used for location services in Windows 8.

Bing is now preparing to release its first round of imagery for the UK soon. Coplin explained that the company had originally planned to make the Streetside imagery available in May but due to some essential datacenter work it had been delayed. The first sets of imagery, based on initial driving in London, is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

Bing's UK Streetside car

  • GP007

    Wow, this is pretty cool, now if normal people use this and feed data back into bing that’d help build up maps and local data even quicker.   I think this is a pretty nice move, kinda Google’esc you could say.

    • Jinge

      If I understood well, it is not about images, but only about geolocalization…
      And I still don’t understand why they want to collect Wifi info…?

    • Anonymous

      it can help aid positioning.

    • GP007

      The wifi spots help to quickly trianglulate your location etc.  The more reference points you have for a area the better and quicker it can do it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/carlosrfonseca Carlos Ribeiro da Fonseca

      As GP007 and naberuk said, it allows the phone to know where it is even in without GPS signal.

      I’m indoors now, but if I open 4th & Mayor on my Omnia7, it still accurately shows the nearby places, even without an actual WiFi connection. If I disable WiFi, it still shows some nearby places but with much less accuracy.

    • Guest

      Except that Google rarely open sources anything important and of course their scummy data collection practices are what prompted this.

  • Anonymous

    Street side is bad.. they should revert back to what it were or give option fro people to choose between than and streeview

    • Guest

      Um, maybe that’s why they’re trying to improve it?

    • Anonymous

      I understand what you mean but they had something which was working and now they messed it up 

    • Anonymous

      I understand what you mean but they had something which was working and now they messed it up 

  • Test1ngi23

    No Microsoft! Open source is evil! ;)