WATCH | Trickster causes 'traffic jams' on Google Maps using 99 cellphones

That's all it took for Simon Weckert to fool the application into thinking traffic was gridlocked along several routes in Berlin

05 February 2020 - 15:06 By AFP Relaxnews

WATCH | A German artist 99 smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps. Video: Simon Weckert.

Over the weekend, a video was published by an artist demonstrating how Google Maps can be fooled into thinking there's a traffic jam by someone simply carrying about 100 cellphones along empty streets.

On Saturday, a German artist by the name of Simon Weckert tricked Google Maps into thinking that cars were gridlocked back to back in Berlin by pulling a little red wagon filled with 99 cellphones down empty streets.

The virtual traffic jam occurred wherever he brought his phone-filled wagon, in which all of the Android devices inside had Google Maps open.

Weckert stated that, “Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic.” 

He told Motherboard by Vice that he only has to walk along a street for an hour or two to turn that designated area on Maps red, which signals to users that traffic is congested.

By simulating these jams which Maps believes truly exists, the platform then suggested to other people asking for directions on the app to take routes avoiding Wreckert's area; as a result, these fake gridlocks could potentially create very real gridlocks.

This hack was done by the artist to expose how easily digital technology which modern society relies upon all day everyday can be manipulated.

Maps as such, “substitute political and military power in a way that represents the state borders between territories and they can repeat, legitimate, and construct the differences of classes and social self-understandings;” therefore, an experiment like this proves how subjective even seemingly objective data can be.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.