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Now everyone is aware on how the iPhone tends to continuously track your geographic location, some new ideas have been initiated to actually make good use of that data, before it will be too late. One important caveat: you need to be fast, and certainly participate before downloading the ±660MB iOS 4.3.3 update, which regardless of its huge size, is just meant to remove this feature by making the tracking timeframe smaller, and encrypting the resulting backup file.

Two services now encourage you to share the data anonymously for posterity, promising open access to the resulting aggregated dataset.

OpenPaths [openpaths.cc] collects the personal location data files recorded by iOS devices. It allows users to securely store and manage this data, and grant researchers access to specific portions of that data. OpenPaths is initiated by NYTLabs, the Research and Development Lab at the New York Times Company, known from their recent visualization Cascade. As it allows users to access their data after submission, it requires registering first.

Alternatively, one can use CrowdFlow [crowdflow.net]. This service also attempts to combine as many of these log files as possible, in an aim to create an open database of WiFi and cell networks worldwide. CrowdFlow is driven by many of the same people who brought you the compelling story Tell-All Telephone visualization, which demonstrated how much can be revealed by a provider's log files. CrowdFlow gives users less control, but the upload process is quick and smooth. They now possess about 700 iPhone logs, resulting in about 2.1 million mobile phone network cells and a set of great maps.

So, what are you waiting for?

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