Someone carted 99 phones around to create traffic jams on Google Maps

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Artist named Simon Weckert recently posted a video on YouTube showing how he managed to “hack” Google Maps to create virtual traffic jams on the streets of Berlin.

For this experiment, Weckert loaded 99 smartphones running Google Maps into a small cart. He then had someone wheel that cart around various streets in Berlin, including outside the Google office.

The cart with phones apparently fooled Google Maps into thinking that there was a high concentration of users on those streets. Because the phones were in a slow-moving cart, Maps was further tricked into believing that the traffic was slow-moving. As you can see the streets were totally empty.

As a result, the navigation app started showing virtual traffic jams by turning green streets to red. You can watch the video below to see the trick in action.

What Simon said about his Google Maps stunt.

“Maps have the potential as an instrument of power for some intentions. They substitute political and military power,” Weckert said. He added that “we are highly focused on” the data of apps like Google Maps “and tend to see them as objective … thus data are viewed as the world itself, forgetting that the numbers are only representing a model of the world.”

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