This Man Simulated a Traffic Jam on Google Maps with 99 Smartphones

Yolanda Curtis
February 4, 2020

Now, as long as Simon Weckert does not cross your path, because this man has managed to fool Google Maps.

An artist loaded up Google Maps on 99 phones, placed them inside a cart, and then started walking the streets of Berlin, Germany while lugging the cart behind him.

Google Maps utilizes Global Positioning System and location data from mobile devices to determine if there is traffic congestion on a particular street.

"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", Weckert wrote.

Heres an amusing story about an artist, Google Maps, and a wagon full of smartphones. Perhaps now in your head, a scene has already been drawn in which you could deceive Google Maps. Inside the cart were 99 "secondhand smartphones". The app constantly pings smartphones actively using Google's software in order to determine the approximate density of traffic and how fast that traffic is moving.

A performance artist hacked Google Maps to create a fake traffic jam by carrying 99 smartphones in a tiny red wagon on the streets of Berlin.

Weckert added that he wanted to draw attention to the blind trust many have in tech companies and platforms. "They 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". The video also includes a screen recording of Google Maps, where we can see how nearly instantly the stretch of road becomes red.

Simon said: "In this process it is pointing out the fact that we are highly focused on the data and tent to see them as objective, unambiguous, and interpretation free".

He also said the application had "established a position for itself" by interacting with other apps such as Airbnb and deliveroo, thereby creating a new form of "digital capitalism'". Of course, that only works for drivers on Google Maps navigation, but depending on the country and city you're using this technique in, that might be quite a few people.

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