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Geolocation is the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar, mobile phone or an Internet-connected computer terminal. Geolocation may refer to the practice of assessing the location, or to the actual assessed location. Geolocation is closely related to the use of positioning systems but can be distinguished from it by a greater emphasis on determining a meaningful location (e.g. a street address) rather than just a set of geographic coordinates.

For either geolocating or positioning, the locating engine often uses radio frequency (RF) location methods, for example Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) for precision. TDOA systems often utilise mapping displays or other geographic information system. This is in contrast to earlier radiolocation technologies, for example Direction Finding where a line of bearing to a transmitter is achieved as part of the process.

Internet and computer geolocation can be performed by associating a geographic location with the Internet Protocol (IP) address, MAC address, RFID, hardware embedded article/production number, embedded software number (such as UUID, Exif/IPTC/XMP or modern steganography), invoice, Wi-Fi positioning system, or device GPS coordinates, or other, perhaps self-disclosed information. Geolocation usually works by automatically looking up an IP address on a WHOIS service and retrieving the registrant's physical address.[1]

IP address location data can include information such as country, region, city, postal/zip code,[2] latitude, longitude and timezone.[3] Deeper data sets can determine other parameters such as domain name, connection speed, ISP, language, proxies, company name, US DMA/MSA, NAICS codes, and home/business.

The word geolocation is also used in other contexts to refer to the process of inferring the location of a tracked animal based, for instance, on the time history of sunlight brightness or the water temperature and depth measured by an instrument attached to the animal. Such instruments are commonly called archival tags or dataloggers.

The word geolocation is also the latitude and longitude coordinates of a particular location. Term and definition standardized by ISO/IEC 19762-5:2008.


  • A WOEID (Where on Earth IDentifier) is a unique 32-bit reference identifier assigned by Yahoo! to identify any feature on Earth.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kevin F. King (2009-10-14). "Geolocation and Federalism on the Internet: Cutting Internet Gambling's Gordian Knot". Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Digital Element Finding Demand for Granular IP Targeting". 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  3. ^ IPInfoDB (2009-07-10). "IP Geolocation database". IPInfoDB. Retrieved 2009-07-18.