UK communications regulator Ofcom has launched a crowdsourced research project for the 20 million UK Android users in the hopes of creating better mobile networks.
Taking part in the project doesn't actually require much effort on your part as the app Ofcom has created for the initiative gathers most of the information it needs in the background. Outside of downloading the Ofcom Mobile Research app and providing some basic personal information such as age, occupation, and home broadband availability there are no particularly strenuous tasks.
The app is seeking to get information on mobile coverage, reliability of voice calls, mobile broadband performance and the experiences and habits of Android users.
Minimal effort required
As far as measuring the performance of mobile and Wi-Fi networks, users don't need to manually run any tests as the app will do all of this itself, displaying the highlights of its findings on the app home screen. What users will have to do is briefly rate how well they think their service is performing from time to time.
The app will also log when other apps are opened, which is used to help Ofcom understand usage trends across volunteers. Don't worry about privacy, though – although the app will be able to tell when you've opened another app, it won't be able to record what it was used for or what actions were performed on it.
With the results of its research, Ofcom is aiming to build an independent benchmark for consumers and the mobile industry. By creating this benchmark it hopes it will be able to help mobile customers make more informed decisions when it comes to choosing a mobile network as well as enhance its own mobile coverage maps.
Ofcom promises that it takes protecting the data of its volunteers "very seriously" and says that the data collected by the app will be anonymised completely and "collated to build a nationally-representative dataset."
When it's been collated the data will be used across a variety of Ofcom research projects that will include a new study in spring 2017 which will compare the quality of service offered by telecoms operators.
For anyone interested in volunteering for the project, the research app can be downloaded from the Google Play store.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.