Demystification Committee

Network survey in Docklands & Canary Wharf

Back in winter 2015 the Demystification Committee set to explore pattern of WiFi data across the city. Using the same custom software for data mining and analysis deployed in the Network Ensemble, a series of walks were undertaken.

The first walk begun from an area nestled north-east of Canary Wharf and characterised by large anonymous buildings with imposing grey exterior. This extremely militarised part of London is surrounded by multiple metal fences and countless security cameras, for the area houses the most important node of the Internet: LINX, the London Internet Exchange. These buildings are where networks from providers like Virgin or O2 come together to exchange their traffic.

Such a relevant location had to be the first subject of a network survey.

As we walked following the path of the underground cables making up this crucial part of the Internet we collected wireless Internet data. The walk continued towards Canary Wharf, one of the most important European financial hubs housing the headquarters of banks such as HSBC, Barclays or CityBank. These banks do not sit over the world’s fastest telecommunication cables by coincidence: financial services and fast trading algorithms thrive over the speed, performance and scalability of networked telecommunication systems.

Over 60,000 devices and 2,000 networks were monitored during the Internet walk. The data was initially plotted on a map, but the amount of information was too high to visualise statically, or at once.

Using the data collected during this walk we produced the first Network Study. These are territorial explorations in which physical walks, virtual fly-overs and airborne network forces collide. In Network Studies, patterns of WiFi data found while wandering in the city are represented as sound, graphs and distorted visuals.