Artist fooled Google Maps by creating virtual traffic jam with 99 smartphones

Artist fooled Google Maps by creating virtual traffic jam with 99 smartphones


By “rolling” several smartphones in a small cart, a Berlin artist managed to fool Google Maps who thought it was a traffic. The other users were invited to take a secondary route.

The online mapping services offered by Google Maps have grown phenomenally. They are now interactive, powered in real time, and many companies, such as airbnb, uber or other delivery services of all kinds today depend completely on their activities. With its virtual maps, Google Maps has therefore finally succeeded in modifying the way we evolve in the urban environment, operating a certain control on the information followed blindly by the consumer.

It is this almost dependent relationship between digital and the real world that the Berlin artist Simon Weckert wanted to demonstrate.

Virtual traffic
To determine the density of traffic on a street, Google Maps calculates the number of car users present in such or such place, via their smartphone. If the computer registers a large number of cars (smartphones) driving in the same area, the application will then display the street concerned in orange or red. And if the traffic is really too heavy, then Google Maps automatically redirects other road users in the same area to other routes.

Being aware of this principle, an artist therefore tried to “fool” the Google computer. For this operation, he “simply” needed 99 smartphones – stacked in a small cart – whose navigation mode had been activated. He then strolled quietly through the streets of Berlin.

Very quickly, the Google mapping service therefore recognized that there were indeed far too many people in the same area. The street therefore appeared in red on the screens, and as expected, he was quick to redirect other users on a different route.

With this performance called “Google Maps Hacks”, the artist managed to influence the real world through the virtual world, which served here as an intermediary.

If the purpose of this “hacking” was to point the finger at our dependence on such a service, it also revealed in the process a flaw in the Google Maps systems. Following this experience, the tech giant may therefore have to adjust its parameters and algorithms to ensure that such a situation does not happen again.