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Long Island University (LIU) launched its iPad initiative program as a part of investment in educational technology. Full-time undergraduate and transfer students are eligible to receive an Apple iPad free of charge. The University distributed 6,000 iPad during Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters and the number is expected to approach 10,000 by Spring 2012. The iPad’s portability allows students to read email, check course schedules, and access online learning system anywhere. Although LIU campuses already had wireless networks, high demand for usage prompted the Information Technology Department to invest $100,000 to place additional wireless access points (APs) on C.W. Post and Brooklyn campuses.

We would like to introduce a completed case study of a mobile learning experience in an Earth Science class, which covers Geographical Information Systems (GIS) topics. Students learn theory and techniques with GIS software through assignments and class projects. In Spring 2011, Dr. Patrick Kennelly and a graduate student, Kiichi Takeuchi, designed a class project to map WiFi on the C.W. Post campus throughout the semester. The goal of the project was to create a map of the WiFi signal intensity using the iPad. Our motivation was that students want reliable WiFi access for their iPads, but they have no accurate map of where WiFi signal is available. Our challenge was to collect data and visualize signals that are not visible. For example, we knew that the signal intensity decreased as the device moves away from antennas; however, we did not know how quickly it diminished. University administrators were also interested in this issue because they would like to identify the effective range of APs and improve weak areas by adding more APs.

The class project involved five undergraduates and five graduates. All students collected and analyzed data, but students split into three groups for the final presentation: the pilot project team, the WiFi AP team, and the WiFi signal team. Each individual student found WiFi APs, mapped the pilot area to determine locational uncertainty, and was assigned to measure the signal intensity of a specific area. Our collaborative data collection effort was driven by various online applications such as discussion forums, Wikis, and Google Docs. In the discussion forum, we discussed proper sampling methods and strategies before going out to the pilot area, and then we summarized discussions on a Wiki. After we measured the intensity, data files were uploaded on Google Docs to share the results among all teams. Since the iPad is a WiFi enabled device, students could measure signal strength and location while accessing online resources during the survey.

Kiichi Takeuchi built a custom iPad app to collect WiFi signal data. He customized the app and included all necessarily components to accomplish the learning objectives of this project. These learning objectives, such as designing a sampling strategy, measuring locational accuracy and precision, and understanding spatial interpolation methods were accomplished in an innovative manner. In order to achieve these objectives, the software was updated multiple times to better meet the needs of the students.

The atmosphere of the classroom was energetic and the project was driven by collaboration between groups and individuals. Students had an opportunity to present the project to various interested parties including the Chief Information Officer, Provost, the Dean, and representatives from Apple. The project’s final result are accessible on a GIS server, which is publicly available on the web.

This WiFi mapping project served as experiential learning for Earth Science students by allowing them to achieve important geospatial learning objectives in a collaborative and cutting edge fashion. Students showed genuine pride and satisfaction in the final outcomes of this class project.


Authors: Patrick Kennelly, Ph.D. and Kiichi Takeuchi


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If you are interested in details of this project, app, or course materials, please feel free to contact Kiichi (email: kiichi at If you are in New York area, I’m happy to have a meeting with you.


Press Release:

Sky’s the Limit for Long Island University’s iPad Initiative (April 11, 2011)


Long Island University’s iPad Initiative Spawns Local App Development (November 10, 2011)


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Updated: December 8, 2011

Download the entire project of the app from here (324kb). The project name is like OAuth… because I inherit all project from my previous example of integration with Google Fusion Table.

Note: It seems that Apple shutdown the access to WiFi Framework  in iOS 5. You can jailbreak your iPad or use iOS 4 iPad / iPhone.



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2 Responses to “WiFi Mapping Project with iPad at Long Island University”

  1. BLee says:

    Great idea and well executed. Please contact me to discuss potential partnership. I responded to your email but it was kicked back.

  2. [...] Apples 802.11 WiFi manager framework, even it’s for private API usage. Our academic project, WiFi Mapping, used to use the functionality but it’s not available anymore. I start exploring different [...]

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