Skip to Content
[CAIDA - Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis logo]
Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis
CAIDA's Geolocation Tools Comparison
This page describes CAIDA's plan in 2010 to conduct a comparison survey of geolocation tools for determining the location of an Internet Protocol (IP) address (and other identifiers) and to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of such tools. Through this process, we intend to increase situational awareness of Internet topology structure, behavior, and vulnerabilities. This project received support from (N66001-08-C-2029) Cybersecurity: Leveraging the Science and Technology of Internet Mapping for Homeland Security

Jan 2010 Send public request for feedback
Feb 2010 Discuss feedback at CAIDA's AIMS 2010 workshop
Summer 2010 Run comparison
Dec 2010 Publish technical report


Governments, researchers, and commercial entities all share interest in mapping Internet resources to physical locations. Governments use this data to prepare and plan for adverse events as well as to tax and regulate. Academics use this data to more accurately depict how the Internet works and how people use it. Commercial interests might use the data to provide better localized services and targeted pricing.

These interests call for geolocation services that provide a an accurate mapping from the virtual world of the Internet to real physical locations. In the late 1990s, CAIDA developed a geolocation service, NetGeo, primarily to support its own research efforts. Although the tool received wide interest and usage from global users, we decommissioned the service in 2003 for lack of resources. Over time, these have been superseded by a mixture of commercial and volunteer efforts. Currently, CAIDA uses Digital Envoy's NetAcuity (tm) service under a no-cost, academic licensing agreement to support our geolocation needs.

CAIDA's Geolocation Tools Comparison Survey

As part of a Internet mapping project, funded by DHS Cybersecurity project, we conducted a rigorous comparison of various geolocation services, in terms of features, methodologies, and accuracy of output, to the extent we can validate.

We conducted a literature search as part of our efforts to compare geolocation tools and presented an Internet Protocol Address (IP) Geolocation Bibliography, an annotated bibliography of papers and datasets related to the field of IP address geolocation.


A slidedeck overview, "Geolocation Comparison: CAIDA's Geolocation Database Comparison", was presented at the 2011 Network Mapping and Measurement Conference (NMMC) to provide an introduction to geolocation comparison.

The accompanying technical report, "Geocompare: a comparison of public and commercial geolocation databases", was also presented at NMMC.

Request for Feedback

In 2010, we collected public feedback on the general state of geolocations and our evalution criteria, asking the questions below.

General Information Questions

  • What is your primary interest in geolocation services?
    Legal, academic, content localization, disaster preparedness, regulation, ...
  • Can you provide ground truth geolocation information for your organization?
  • Do you have suggested metrics, questions, or tests to include in the comparisons?
  • If you provide a geolocation service, under what conditions would you be willing to participate?
  • If you use a Geolocation service(s), which do you use and in what way?
  • Which companies do you consider to be the primary providers of geolocation services at this time?

Geolocation Service Evaluation Criteria

  • What geographic granularity does it provide?
    Continent, country, state/prefecture, city, zip code.
  • What Internet identifier granularity does it support?
    Internet Protocol (IP) address, network prefix, Autonomous System (AS).
  • Does the accuracy of the results vary by geographic region or by type of network?
  • With what frequency does a service update its database?
  • How many queries per second can clients execute?

  Last Modified: Tue Oct-13-2020 22:21:40 UTC
  Page URL: