Is this what Dan Catt has been up to recently? Ron does some digging and finds Dan in the Zonetag Flickr group, so we’ll assume yes. (Before Dan went to work at Yahoo!, he was responsible for Geobloggers, which mapped geotagged Flickr photos onto Google Earth.)
What is Zonetag? It’s not a mapping solution per se, but a mobile publishing tool for cell phone cameras that incorporates an automatic geotagger. In English: It will let you upload your cell phone photos to your Flickr account via your phone and automatically tag the photos with the ID of the cell phone tower you’re using.
As soon as somebody in the Flickr photo community associates that cell phone tower ID tag with a ZIP code or city location tag, all photos with that tower ID will then be linked to the area in which you took them.
The service is experimental and works in the US only, with Nokia Series 60 phones. Here is an example of a “celltagged” Flickr Photo, with a ZIP code tag attached. Here are all 1968 zonetagged photos to date.
Implications for mapping & Google Earth? These photos aren’t nearly as precisely positioned as longitude/latitude tags generated by GPS-based devices, and will likely be scrunched up at one location for multiple cell towers if many are displayed on a map. We’ll see if that proves to be “good enough” for mainstream use, given the ease of publishing to Flickr. I suspect people will expect more precise positioning when zooming in close with Google Earth.