Cnet reports Google won't resume vehicle-based Wi-Fi location collection: Google had a passel of problems this year around the world related to how it was scanning for Wi-Fi and (it says) accidentally storing some publicly broadcast information. Google was collecting Wi-Fi network names, unique identifiers, and signal strength information and associating snapshots of such details with GPS coordinates while also taking pictures for Street View. Wi-Fi positioning systems can analyze a snapshot made by a mobile or desktop device and provide GPS-like results in urban and suburban areas.
But Google hasn't given up on scanning, as it can rely on location information from Android-equipped phones, which pretty much all have GPS receivers built in and a data path at nearly all times back to the central servers to deliver the Wi-Fi snapshots and associated location information.
Wi-Fi positioning is used to provide a quick fix where GPS satellites aren't as reachable, and works well indoors where GPS receivers in mobile devices function poorly. Skyhook Wireless was the pioneer in this area, but is no longer provided data (and thus receiving data) from Apple, and filed two lawsuits a few weeks ago alleging Google interfered in relationships Skyhook had with two major handset makers delivering Android-based phones.