Google (doesn’t) know where we are

Google seems to know everything these days. One of those things is my location. On any computer or even on my phone Google will have a fairly good idea of where I am.

My phone has GPS so finding me accurately is pretty easy, if a little slow. So Google intelligently short circuit the process by identifying the location of any wireless network I happen to be in the vicinity of.
Ignoring the slightly dubious question of where Google happened to get that data from; it all seems like a pretty good idea.

So while we’re enthusing about technology, let me enthuse also about our mobile wireless access point. Connecting to the mobile network, it provides a wireless access point that our wi-fi only devices can connect to and have internet access wherever they are. Even our phones, which also have wi-fi, can use it for data rather than use their own network connection.

…hang on. Does anyone see a problem here?

Yes, you guessed it. Google has rather arbitrarily recorded the location of that access point as somewhere in London. Yes, it was actually at that location. Once. Now however it isn’t. So whenever I try to identify my location and I am near that access point Google gets very confused and moves me alternately back and forth between my actual location and the apparent point in London which I must surely be at (after all Google says so).

‘Luckily’ Google are offering an opt out of the wi-fi location database if we are prepared to rename our access point to give it a suffix of their choice. I think they may rather be missing the point here.

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