In short: An artist from Berlin has actually shown just how easy it can be to control Google Maps’ real-time traffic information. With a wagon full of phones, he was able to develop virtual traffic jams and presumably reroute traffic, causing others to needlessly avoid the location.

Google for well over a decade has used colored overlays in its mapping application to show real-time traffic conditions. Green means smooth cruising, yellow suggests some crowding and red represents a bona fide traffic congestion.

This info about your commute is considered vital to numerous, however did you ever stop to question where Google and others source their data from? Look no more than the dependable ole spy in your pocket, otherwise called your smart device.

Mapping providers like Google rely on crowdsourcing to gather speed and location information from smart device users. By analyzing the motion and congestion of phones, they’re able to figure out traffic conditions with a reasonable level of precision.

Weckert collected 99 smart devices, filled each one with the Google Maps app then walked town with them in a wagon. As Weckert appears to demonstrate in the clip above, the habits prospered in developing a virtual traffic jam, turning green streets red within the app.

Most likely, this also affected others by rerouting them to prevent the “traffic congestion.”

For its part, Google seems to be taking it all in stride. A spokesperson for Google told 9to5Google that “Whether via cars and truck or cart or camel, we like seeing creative usages of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better gradually.”

Masthead credit: Google Maps by XanderSt

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