Our modern lives thrive on connectivity, as the internet gives us the ability to link to people and services all over the world.
Now, an internet cartographer and computer scientist has revealed just how far the web’s reach is by plotting the location of millions of online devices around the world.
It reveals the hotspots where internet connectivity is flourishing and the blackspots where it is only just starting to develop as the web spreads into the farthest corners of the globe.
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An internet cartographer listened to millions of web devices around the world to create a map showing just how far the technology has spread (pictured). Red areas contain a lot of web-enabled devices, while green areas contain fewer. Black areas are regions where no signal was received
‘Pinging’ an IP address involves sending a signal to the device from a server.
In this case, Texas-based internet cartographer and computer scientist John Matherly used software to ‘ping’ Internet-connected devices around the world, calling out and listening for their response.
Texas-based John Matherly used software to ‘ping’ internet-connected devices around the world according to their IP, or Internet Protocol, address and listening for their response.
In the majority of cases, the signal revealed the location of internet routers rather than individual gadgets, but Mr Matherly said iPhone and Android devices have appeared previously.
In total, it took him about five hours to ping all IPs on the internet, and then another 12 hours to create the map.
His latest map is an update of a 2014 graphic, which helps to show how access to the internet has spread over the past two years.
Most notable is the spread of internet connectivity in India, as well as a general increase in the density of connected devices worldwide.
The highest density of internet access can be found in Europe and on the east coast of the United States. While central US has surprisingly low connectivity – due mainly lower populations levels – there is an intense concentration in California around Silicon Valley.
The latest map shows densely populated regions have the most internet-connected devices. Pictured is North and Central America, with the highest densities in the Eastern US (left), as well as continental Europe (right), which has a high density
In the maps, red denotes the highest concentrations of internet connected devices while yellow shows a lower level.
Green show the lowest concentrations while black areas of the maps are where Mr Matherly received no response to his IP address ping.
Writing on Imgur, Mr Matherly – who goes by the Reddit profile ‘achillean’ – explained: ‘The tool I used is called a ‘stateless scanner’, which can basically do the equivalent of the ‘ping’ command but really fast and to many IPs.’
‘Pinging’ an IP address involves sending a signal to the device from a server, which causes the connection to ‘light up’ – albeit not physically.
Mr Matherly is founder of Shodan, a search engine for connected devices.
Matherly explained: ‘The web is only a tiny fraction of the internet. Most of what Shodan looks at is not part of the web that you would see on Google.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the world’s largest cities in developed countries glow the brightest on the maps, and more remote areas such as in Africa have relatively little internet access.
However, large portions of the world, such as China also appear to have no internet access on the map.
Mr Matherly explained his map is not as precise as it could be because some organisations block ping requests.
John Matherly first used software to ‘ping’ global web devices to build a map in 2014 (pictured) demonstrating the technology’s global reach. It is easy to see how well-connected areas like Europe and the US contrast with Greenland and Africa
It is thought that areas of China should be coloured bright red on the map, but the ‘Great Firewall’ around the country’s internet explains why most of the country looks dark.
Mr Matherly wrote: ‘There’s basically not a lot of information available on where an IP address is located within China, which makes mapping it very difficult.
‘The majority of devices simply get lumped into Shanghai or Beijing, even though they might be located somewhere else within the country.’
Explaining how he made the map, Mr Matherly said: ‘The data was generated using a stateless scanner used to create Shodan.
‘A free, open-source scanner called Zmap is readily available for anybody that wants to do it themselves, and the map itself was generated using the Python matplotlib library.’
However, such tools can also be used by internet scam artists, where an individual sends and receives packets to everyone connected to the internet.
ANOTHER MAP SHOWS INTERNET CENSORSHIP AROUND THE WORLD
The Internet has revolutionised communication and promotes free speech across the globe. Consequently, online freedom is a hot topic.
Some governments consider the internet to be dangerous and inflammatory so they regulate it.
A firm called IVPN recently created a map of internet freedom around the world based on a Freedom House report in 2013.
In the report, countries were reviewed on limits placed on online content, obstacles to Internet access, and violations of user rights.
They were then graded as free, partly free or not free and marked on a map in white, pink and red respectively. Countries marked in grey were not included in the report.
China, Iran and Syria were found to be the top three user rights violators when it comes to online freedom.
A firm called IVPN has previously created a map of internet freedom around the world (pictured) based on a Freedom House report in 2013. Regions marked in white have the freedom to roam, as opposed to those marked red