Global Database of Public Wireless Networks?

I’ve been traveling and spending a lot of time in caf├ęs, hotels, etc, recently. So I’m on a lot of different wireless networks, most of which are open to the public though they are sometimes password-protected (with the password physically posted in the vicinity of the network).

This also happened to be around the time the Open Wireless Movement had their public launch. So I got to thinking…

What if every time I signed on to a new network, the dialog box asked me if I wanted to upload to a global database the network name, password (if any), lat/long location, and any other information it can glean automatically?

example dialog box, with option unchecked

One would just use one’s judgement about when to send the information upstream to the database. I think there’s no problem relying on judgement here: after all, these are already public networks that accept strangers — when there’s a password at all, anyone who has it (e.g., anyone in or near a certain cafe) can already share the password with whomever they choose. The only people who can take advantage of it are those in the area anyway. If your judgement says it’s okay to share the information, then you just check the box (which starts out unchecked by default, because this should always be a positive decision by the user):

example dialog box, with option checked

Then, of course, when a device is searching for a wireless network to join, it would consult the same global database (copies of which would be synced automatically to the local machine from time to time).

The upload option could prompt the user to offer an optional “notes” field, for example to include the location’s name, physical address, access policy, whatever. Well, there are lots of possible tweaks, but you get the general idea.

Is anyone already doing this?

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