Man faked traffic jam on Google Maps by Walking with 99 phones and literally fooled everyone
A German artist named Simon Weckert has pulled off a clever prank that exposed a flaw in Google Maps. He used a handcart filled with 99 active cell phones connected to Google Maps to create fake traffic jams on the streets of Berlin. By walking slowly with the cart, he tricked the app into thinking that there were many cars moving slowly in the same area. As a result, Google Maps showed red lines on the map, indicating heavy traffic congestion.
Weckert said that his intention was to show how technology shapes our perception of reality and how we trust digital services without questioning them. He also wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to manipulate data and algorithms with simple means. He chose 99 phones because it is a symbolic number that represents both abundance and scarcity.
Google Maps uses various sources of data to provide real-time traffic information, such as anonymized location data from users who have location services turned on, road sensors, and reports from the Google Maps community. However, the app does not have a way to distinguish between different modes of transportation, such as cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians. Therefore, a large number of phones moving slowly in one direction can be interpreted as a traffic jam by the app.
Google said that they appreciated seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this, as it helps them make maps work better over time. The company also admitted that their algorithm has not yet cracked traveling by wagon. Weckert's stunt has raised questions about the reliability and accuracy of Google Maps and other digital services that rely on data and algorithms.Google Maps is one of the most popular and widely used navigation services in the world. It provides users with various features, such as directions, street view, satellite imagery, and traffic information. Traffic information is especially useful for drivers who want to avoid congestion and find the best route to their destination. But how does Google Maps get its traffic data?
According to How-To Geek[^2^], Google gathers real-time location data from other people using Google Maps to show traffic congestion. This is done by collecting anonymized data from users who have location services turned on in their devices. Google then analyzes this data and assigns different colors to different segments of roads, depending on the speed and density of traffic. For example, green means that traffic is flowing smoothly, yellow means that traffic is moderate, and red means that traffic is heavy or stopped.
Google previously used physical traffic cameras and sensors but no longer does. Instead, it relies on crowdsourced data from millions of users who share their location with Google. This allows Google to provide more accurate and up-to-date traffic information for more places around the world. However, this also means that Google Maps can be fooled by unusual situations, such as Weckert's prank or a large gathering of people.
Google Maps is not the only service that uses location data to provide traffic information. Other apps, such as Waze, Apple Maps, and INRIX, also use similar methods to collect and analyze traffic data. However, Google Maps has an advantage over its competitors because of its large user base and its integration with other Google services, such as Search, Assistant, and Calendar. aa16f39245