“Why does Meraki show all my iPads in the Chevy Chase Area!?!?”

mapIf you look at the map next to the details of one of your iPads in Meraki, you may notice it shows the iPad in the Chevy Chase area. One of two things is happening when you see this.

1. Students and teachers from across the district have decided to have an iPad rally in the Chevy Chase area.

2. The iPads are not really there.

treeAfter exhaustive research, I’ve determined that 99.7% of the time the answer is #2. In fact, according to Google Street View, if #1 is true, there should be a ton of iPads under this tree.

So why the misinformation?

Meraki uses a few different ways to obtain the current location of the device. According to their documentation they use four different ways to obtain location. Two of them apply to us.
GPS location (via GPS) – this is the most accurate. iOS devices may report a GPS location with our SM iOS app installed, enabled, and active

IP geolocation (via IP) – location based on the device’s most recent IP address. This is our fallback mechanism, and the one that’s most likely to be inaccurate. The results of a geoIP lookup can depend on a variety of factors, including where the owner of the IP (not the user of the IP) has it registered, where the agency that controls the IP is located, proxies, and cellular IPs.”

IP geolocation is the result you are seeing when the device shows up in Chevy Chase. Not sure why our ISP’s address is reporting itself as being here, but that’s what Meraki is showing.

Why don’t we use the Mearaki SM iOS app so that we get a more accurate location?

Good question. First, here’s what Meraki says:

“The SM app provides an additional method to approximate the location of your iOS devices. Please note that the SM app must be running for it to report a GPS location. iOS will automatically unload apps if they aren’t used frequently, and upon reboot of the device, the app will not run until launched. You can request that the user launch the app by issuing a “Request GPS location” command from the client’s details page. If the user selects the prompt notification, the app will launch, and the GPS location can be fetched. Otherwise, the approximate location will be calculated using one of our other three methods.”

So, the only way the Meraki app can report its location is if its running. As you’re probably aware, iPads stop apps running in the background after they haven’t been used in awhile. The exact amount of time an app can run in the background seems to be so illusive that even Google can’t find it. My best guess, is its not a fixed time, but rather it depends on what other apps you are using on the iPad and what resources they require. Since the app will stop I don’t recommend bothering to install it, but it won’t hurt anything if you do.

If you want to be able to get accurate locations of you iPads, I recommend enabling Find My iPad. See Apple’s documentation on how to do this here. Note: this will also enable activation lock. So if you reset the iPad you will need to know the Apple ID credentials that were setup on the iPad when Find My iPad was turned on. If you run into a problem which a district owned iPad in which you cannot setup an iPad due to activation lock let me know. I can help.

The info on how Meraki identifies locations came from their KB site.

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