You can find out where a computer is physically, by measuring how long it takes to communicate with other computers in known locations. But nobody is sure how well this works outside of Europe and North America.
This demo is part of a research study conducted by Zachary Weinberg, Nicolas Christin, and Vyas Sekar of Carnegie Mellon University. It will show you how accurately this measurement can locate your computer, and then, if you want, you can send us the measurements to help with our research.
The demo can take several minutes to run, and the map won’t change until close to the end.
Now that you’ve seen the demo, are you interested in helping us with our research?
Your computer sends messages to 200 other computers around the world (the “anchor” servers of the RIPE Atlas), and measures the round-trip times.
We know where those servers are and we have measured how long it takes them to talk to each other. Using that, we can estimate that if it takes this long for your computer to communicate with that server, then they are at most this far apart. (This is called the CBG algorithm.)
For each server, the demo draws a circle on the map covering “this far apart,” unless it would be too big to be helpful (more than half the surface of the Earth). Your computer should be where all the circles coincide.
We need you to tell us your computer’s true location, which might not be where your browser or freegeoip.net thinks it is, and whether you are using a network proxy. We will also automatically record:
CMU’s Office of Research Integrity and Compliance requires us to warn you that the data we collect is considered “personally identifiable information” under US law, and that the university is legally required to store all research data for at least three years. We take care to protect it:
However, participating in this study could still harm you, especially if our database is stolen. The thief would be able to associate your IP address with your location, more precisely than they could if they only knew your IP address. If there’s someone specific who must not find out where you live, we recommend you don’t send us data collected by a computer in your house.
Also, for legal reasons, please don’t send us any data if you are younger than 18 years old.
If you have concerns about this study, or questions about your rights as a research participant, you can contact the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-268-1901 or 412-268-5460.