Wardriving sparks wireless treasure hunt

An organisation that is building community wireless networks around New Zealand is planning to take a break and turn wardriving into a game

A group of wireless networking enthusiasts are gearing up to hold a Wi-Fi treasure hunt.

The event will take place on 7 December in New Zealand, and is being organised by NZWireless -- an organisation that is helping to drive the rollout of community-based wireless networks.

To complete the challenge, contestants will have to find a series of wireless access points spread across a wide area of Auckland.

Each wireless network will yield a clue to the location of the next -- this clue is likely be hidden in the network's SSID identifier -- and teams will have to search around the area using network-detection software such as Netstumbler. The first team to track down all the networks will win, with another prize going to whoever can achieve the strongest signals from the networks.

The NZWireless Wi-Fi treasure hunt is though to be the first of its kind. Although essentially a light-hearted activity it may help to increase awareness of Wi-Fi issues such as security, as the presence of a small army of wardrivers looking for access points may encourage local companies to secure their networks.

In other Wi-Fi news, Intel has attracted a certain degree of opprobrium after declaring on Thursday that Exeter is the Wi-Fi capital of the UK. The chipmaker came to this conclusion after calculating that the Devon town has the highest ratio of hot spots to people of anywhere in Britain.

This methodology also saw the likes of Bangor, Newcastle and Loughborough labelled as areas of high Wi-Fi importance, while London -- which has more hot spots than anywhere else -- only made 33rd on Intel's abacus. As one industry commentator pointed out, many community networks weren't counted, even though they are playing a vital role in the rollout of high-speed services in rural areas.

It would perhaps also have been more valuable to calculate Wi-Fi usage either in terms of data transfer or user numbers. As ZDNet UK found earlier this year, there's limited evidence of hot-spot activity even in some metropolitan areas.