Data collection project: help collect data to improve Smoke Point

In order to improve Smoke Point’s target estimation algorithm, we need to figure out exactly how accurate phone compasses are, and how that accuracy changes under different conditions. This data will help make the algorithm more accurate, and also communicate the uncertainty to firefighters in a visual manner. When time is tight, having clear visual cues that inform firefighters of where they need to be looking is critical!

The concentric rings indicate the algorithm’s confidence, which themselves will only be accurate if we have good ground-truth data. That’s where you come in!

The goal of this project is to collect readings from many different phones, and in a variety of situations that impact compass accuracy.

Take part in this data collection project and you can enter to win a $50 gift card to Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside CA (actually, one of multiple gift cards!). Or, take part just because it’s a good cause.

To maximize your chances of winning, get your friends / family to do this on their phones and make a pact with them to share the spoils!

How does it work?

You will use Smoke Point to take readings of one of several landmarks in the Bay Area.

To win a gift card, you will also send your Smoke Point device ID (instructions below) to us by July 9th so that we can tie your email address to the readings you took.

The detailed instructions

Step 1

Make sure you are running at least version 1.4.4 on Android, and version 1.4.3 on iPhone. Readings taken with earlier versions will not include critical information, and will be unusable. The version number is visible at the bottom of the settings page in the app. You can force an update from the App Store / Play Store, if needed.

Step 2

Open one of the following incident links on your phone by tapping on it. It should open the Smoke Point app automatically and bring you to the incident specific to that landmark. Each landmark has a unique link.

Step 3

Find a spot where the landmark is visible, and take the following readings from that spot with the landmark centered in the crosshairs:

  • First, before calibrating the compass, take one of each of the following:
    1. From inside the car / building*
    2. From just next to the car / building*
    3. From 4+ car lengths away from any car or building*
  • Second, for each of the below, after selecting “Take reading” in the app, calibrate the compass (do the figure-8 motion 3 times), then proceed to take the reading:
    1. From inside the car / building*
    2. From just outside the car / building*
    3. From 4+ car lengths away from any car or building

This process collects six readings from a single location.

* After each reading, the app will ask you some questions. Answer them accurately. When it asks if you are sure about capturing an inaccurate reading, answer “Yes, it’s the best I can do”.

Step 4

Move to a different location, and repeat Step 3. Do this until you become bored.

Step 5

To enter for a gift card, send your device ID to by July 9th. You can find your device ID on the settings page. The easiest thing to do is to take a screenshot of that page, and send it to the email above.

Instructions for how to take a screenshot are available here for Android phones and here for iPhones.

Thank you for helping! Good luck!

%d bloggers like this: