Design and Implementation of the Geographical Location Information System

John Wroclawski
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA


Practical uses and applications of the Internet are presently the focus of many studies in the Internet research community. This is due to the fact that noncomputer entities (e.g., cars, people, sensors) can now be easily connected from the Internet. To access these entities in a practical way, it is necessary to obtain geographical location information of these entities. However, there is no architecture or system that provides such geographical location information of accessible entities on the Internet.

To provide geographical location information, it is necessary to define the relationship between topological location identified by the IP address on the Internet and geographical location in the real world. This paper proposes the Geographical Location Information (GLI) system, which provides a way to map identifiers in these two independent spaces. The system makes it possible to look up the entity identifier based on physical location and to look up geographical location based on the entity identifier.

The GLI system consists of three components: (1) servers that maintain geographical location information for each entity in databases, (2) agents that register entity geographical location information to servers, and (3) clients that issue entity/location queries. The server manages entries that consist of entity identifiers (IP addresses) and geographical location information. A client can look up host identifiers by specifying location as a key, and vice versa.

In this paper we present the design and implementation of the GLI system and show that it is useful based on evaluation and experimentation. The GLI system, which is independent of machine architecture, has been tested on BSD/OS, Sun-OS, and NEWS-OS. We are presently experimenting with the GLI system by using many hosts on the Internet.

From our initial experiment, we learned the importance of server positioning in large-scale environments and of maintaining privacy of information within the GLI system. In the future, we will continue experimentation and evaluation and will strive to improve system performance. Application software for the GLI system will also be developed.