Just curious | OpenCellID data and official German cell data, extreme differences, any idea why?

Hi all,

I am programming an app for disaster response.
I have a leaflet map there, and I want to display cell towers,
so that we can align the directional antenna directly to the mast
(maybe automatically in the future by adjusting the antenna by signal strength)

Now in my experimenent I have a weird phenomenon:

If I compare the OpenCellId data in Germany with the official data from “Bundesnetzagentur”,
there seem to a huge (!) difference.

Any ideas on that?

BTW: I get an image upload error, when I try to attach images …

Permission denied @ rb_sysopen - /var/www/discourse/public/uploads/default/original/1X/8f23c2b616fed050199d28fc4bb4aaa603bf05c4.jpeg

How can I fix this?

Hi DisasterResponeTeam,

I am also seeing image attach errors. I am new here, so am still trying to figure out why. No answer for you yet on that one, though I suspect may have something to do with seniority on the forum.

The OpenCellID data is derived from measurements. The signal strength of those measurements can be affected by many things, not all of which the subsequent calculations to determine tower location would be aware of. There may also be an insufficient number of measurements, and/or insufficient physical location diversity.

So the derived locations are best guesses based on available data, and can be subject to error of as much as several kilometres, based on what I have observed.

I am still trying to figure out how best to use the data.

If you have access to location data from the local German regulatory authority and/or the service provider, I would lean heavily toward that first.

The problem I have found is that the data from the regulatory authority and/or service provider does not always provide enough detail about the tower, like the tower’s specific identity (cell ID, etc.) and/or generation type (UMTS, LTE, etc.).

So you may have to compare all of the data (OpenCellID, regulatory, service provider, etc.) to make some best guesses.

here is the map of the official cellphone towers in germany:

Scroll down to the map :wink:
Just take this little village “Wäschenbeuren” and compare it to openCellID.
It has only four (!) towers.

When i compare to cellphoneid data, there are about seventy(!) - so there is a big discrepancy …
Not really good to rely on this information in an disaster …

Hi DisasterResponeTeam,

The OpenCellID data is crowd-sourced, so some care and consideration needs to be taken when using it for mission critical applications. This is true for any crowd-sourced data.

As I understand it, the OpenCellID data identifies cells, not just towers. A tower may have multiple cells from each service provider, and each tower may have multiple service providers. So there could be many cells from one tower, and not all those cells will be pinned to the same location since there is a significant error margin.

Also, from having examined some of the data, it appears that old cells no longer active may continue to reside in the database, which I can understand, since not easy to determine whether a previously reported cell is still active.

For example, an older UMTS cell with a specific cell ID on a specific frequency may be re-assigned with a different cell ID or shut down altogether to allow for the frequency to be re-farmed. Under such circumstances, the old cell ID remains in the database, while new cell IDs turn up.

The regulatory authority and/or service provider would have much better visibility of those sorts of activities, and would therefore have better data.

Thanks for your answer.
Yeah, the nearer to the source of data, the more precise :wink:

I don’t know how to extract the data from the following URL, otherwise I would have tried to use this openly available data for my purposes. but I don’t have the knpowledge to extract the cell tower data.

So I guess I need to search for other more precise and realible data, to use.

Hi DisasterResponeTeam, maybe you can contact the organisation and ask if you can be provided with the data in a form you would like.

Man, we are here in Germany.
An the “Bundesnetzagentur” is a stage agency.
You can’t demand from a state agency - its only them that can demand, namely that we must pay our taxes … thats the rules here. :wink:

Anyway, thanks for your help!

Hi DisasterResponeTeam,

Not suggesting you demand, only ask or request. Up to them whether to say yes or no, but can’t imagine it would be a problem just to ask?