Coverage Mapping with OpenSignal and Mozilla Location Service

If you use a smart phone, you are connected. To stay connected, you need data. To get data, you need coverage- either from your cell provider or from a WiFi connection. We will look at two services that help you find coverage.

OpenSignal is based upon a simple concept- to measure the signal strength and point you in the direction of the strongest signal. you can download the OpenSignal app from the Play Store or the App Store, based on what device you use. OpenSignal also serves a higher purpose- they serve the data they have and put it on a map. The result is a heatmap that shows you the signal strengths of your provider across the area you live in- a fascinating visualization! You can also get information on which provider has the best coverage in your location.

OpenSignal coverage map of New Delhi
OpenSignal coverage map of New Delhi

When I moved to New Delhi in 2011, I took a new cell subscription from provider A. Provider A had good coverage for most of the places I frequented except the ones that mattered most- home and office. Needless to say, I cancelled this subscription and moved on to provider B which served me like a charm. Now, if I had known that provider B had better coverage for New Delhi than provider A, I would have chosen provider B in the first place. This is one scenario where OpenSignal could help you out- making informed decisions regarding your cell subscription.

Mozilla Location Service
Mozilla Location Service is a relatively newer product and aims to map WiFi coverage around the world. You can open a map of your area and see where you can get open WiFi connections. The service is relatively nascent and will take time to catch up but I’m sure that if Mozilla plays the cards right, we will have a monster of a service on our hands.

WiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location ServiceWiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location Service
WiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location Service

Both OpenSignal and Mozilla Location Service are crowdsourced. You can contribute with the OpenSignal app for the former and MozStumbler for the latter.


Mapping Pollution in India

Photo credit: Alfred Palmer / / Public domain

Pollution is an inevitable by-product of industrial growth. It is important, however, to understand the quantity of pollution created by an industrial area and the subsequent impact on the local environment and population. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in association with IIT-Delhi, has devised a way to rationalize the amount of pollution in an area, called the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI).

CEPI takes into account the presence of toxins, the scale of industrial activity, the concentration of  pollutants, the impact on people and the eco-geology, the level of exposure and the risk to sensitive receptors. These factors are classified into pollutant, pathway and receptor. Based on the score obtained by the area in the three factors, the index is calculated to determine the amount pollution in that area. This index is then used as a basis for further action to be taken to rein in the problematic areas and mitigate further damage.

The Government of India released the results of this study over three iterations (2009, 2011 and 2013) in the public domain. This dataset contains information about 43 critically polluted areas in India. I superimposed the results of this study upon location and created an interactive map to better understand the extent of the study.

Map of the CEPI scores of industrial sectors across India. The markers in red indicate the presence of a moratorium in the area, while the blue markers indicate that the moratorium has been lifted.

You can check out the map here:

To create the basemap, I used the OpenStreetMap customization tools provided by Mapbox. LeafletJS was used to overlay the data on the basemap and provide interactivity. Twitter Bootstrap was used to make the map and the web page responsive.

The CEPI is a move in the right direction. Let’s hope that this study is consistently improved upon in the future, to give some hope of preserving our rapidly deteriorating environment.

You can know more about CEPI, CPCB and the data released here: