Google Maps Hack Allows Man to Simulate Traffic Jam by Lugging 99 Smartphones in a Wagon

Feb 3, 2020
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Google Maps can help with your commute in several ways. Not only does it provide directions, but it also lets you account for traffic along the way. Depending on the traffic conditions, Maps changes the color of the affected roads from green to either orange or red to show how bad the traffic is and. The data about traffic is generated by devices along the road, and it turns out, that feature has one hilarious (and somewhat serious) exploit via a fairly simple Google Maps hack.

A person by the name of Simon Weckert employed a fairly simple Google Maps hack that tricked the app into thinking that there were 99 cars at a given point in the road, which in turn marked the area as 'congested'. His modus operandi was fairly simple:

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99 second-hand 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 in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic.

As a result, Maps even rerouted some users due to the purported 'traffic jam'. You can look at some of Simon's adventures here:

This Google Maps hack raises a lot of questions about the reliability of some of the services that we use and take for granted daily. There is no denying that the world is better off with Google Maps, but instances such as this remind us that nothing is infallible. It'll be interesting to see how Google responds to this going forward.

One of the key difficulties in differentiating between a card filled with 99 smartphones running Google maps and 99 vehicles doing the same is that under real-world conditions, the movement patterns of both are quite identical.

Of course, there is still the possibility of this Google Maps hack being faked. Google is yet to publicly respond to the incident and will likely do so in the coming days.

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