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Enga to Google Maps with 99 phones in a plastic cart

Google MapsPhoto: Simon Weckert
  • Google Maps relies on cell phone locations to indicate traffic status in cities

  • A German artist found a way to "violate" the system

  • With ingenuity and creativity, I tricked the application to make him believe that there was a traffic jam

How does Google Maps know if a street is crowded with cars?

Simple: the Alphabet application “reads” the cell phones that are connected to the telephone network and that are circulating through the different routes and when it detects concentration and slowness of transfer, “Paint” the place to signal traffic congestion red.

However, it is not infallible. A user "cheated" Google Maps in a simple way: he passed through the streets with 99 mobile phones in a wheelbarrow and got the American company to warn of a false traffic jam on its platform.

It happened in Berlin, Germany, and I used second-hand smartphones turned on and connected to the city's telephone networks.

The author of the creative "hacking" is Simon Weckert, a German artist, who passes by a street almost completely vacant, although it seemed to be, in view of Google Maps, full of traffic.

Ironically, he did it on the street where Google's office is located in Berlin.

In a video edited especially by the artist, you can see that Google detected a high concentration of users where Weckert walked and changed the color, from green to orange and red, indicating a high concentration of vehicles.

In a public statement, Weckert cited an article by German anthropologist Moritz Ahlert: "Google's map service has fundamentally changed our understanding of what a map is, how we interact with maps, their technological limitations and how they look aesthetically."

From Google they replied: "Whether by car, car or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps, as it helps us make maps work better over time."

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