You either love Google Maps, or you hate it. Sometimes it will get you where you want to go, and sometimes you just end up so lost and turned around that you have no hope of getting where you want to go. Still, many people rely on the app to help them plot their course home. But have you ever wondered just how accurate the traffic jam feature is on Google Maps? Evidently, it’s pretty easy to fool, as illustrated in the video “Google Maps Traffic Jam Hack by Simon Weckert.”
Artist Simon Weckert lives in Berlin. One day, he decided to take to the street with 99 smartphones in a handcart to see if he could create a “virtual traffic jam.” It appeared to work. Google Maps tracks the speed at which phones are moving, and, using that speed, reports back to the app to show potential traffic jams. By walking the phones through an area, Weckert was able to create a virtual traffic jam. “99 smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps. Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact on the physical world by navigating cars on another route!” wrote Weckert on Twitter.
For their part, Google was appreciative of the stunt. Even though there’s no real way to verify that Weckert’s hack definitively worked (short of reproducing it), Google said that they would use it to improve future changes to the service. “Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time,” a spokesperson from Google stated. That appreciation may not have extended to all the drivers that unwittingly changed their routes, potentially creating a real traffic jam, though.