For everyone driving in a big town, Google Maps is an invaluable tool that gives details about traffic jams or bottlenecks on major roads. Many of us check Google Maps regularly before going anywhere to prepare our routes correctly. Google runs ad campaigns itself, which encourage users to do so. But, as a Berliner who used 99 smartphones and a hand-cart for’ fake’ traffic jams in Germany’s capital, the system is not insane, and it can not be deceived.
Simon Weckert, a Berlin-based artist, pulled off the stunt and detailed his findings in a video published on his YouTube channel, as well as on his own blog. In the video, Weckert is shown pulling 99 smartphones with location turned on in a hand cart on city streets, including the street right outside Google’s office in Berlin.
If the pace is low and number is high, Google would show that segment of the street as red or maroon, suggesting that there is a traffic jam.
The video shows the streets on Google Maps gradually turning from green to maroon, suggesting that there was a traffic pileup on those streets. Google’s navigation suggestions would then recommend that users avoid those streets, even though they were actually clear to drive on, apart from having to watch out for Weckert and his handcart.
Weckert hasn’t shared any further details, so it’s possible that this could have been faked entirely. If it is authentic, Google should ideally be looking at ways to prevent such an exploit from being used, since this could have very real and physical implications on traffic movement.
In any case, don’t stop trusting Google Maps entirely; it’s not often that you have artists with 99 smartphones on a hand cart wandering around.