Info-tech

How a man tricked Google maps by creating fake traffic jams

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 05, 2020 Published on February 05, 2020

Simon Weckert’s little experiment in Berlin where he tricked Google maps into reporting a traffic jam on an empty stretch of a square has gone viral.

Amused by his little stunt, Google stated that though it has already developed the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles, it is yet to crack travelling by wagon, as per media reports.

Weckert lugged 99 working smartphones around the empty streets of Berlin in a small trolley. The slow movement of phones gave an impression to Google maps that there was a traffic jam. Google map soon started reporting traffic jams in the vicinity. The incident further questioned the credibility of crowd-sourcing data collected by the Google service.

According to Google spokesperson cited in 9to5Google, Google does use a large number of devices using Google Maps to recognize traffic jams and give live updates regarding the same.

He further mentioned that the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles have been developed and used in several countries that include India, Egypt, and Indonesia. While Google appreciated the effort Weckert put to make Google discern its own shortcomings, the company clarified that Google Maps traffic data get refreshed continuously in order to give better results. Google gets its data from a wide range of sources including aggregated anonymous data from users that have location services enabled. Google Maps also welcome contributions from the Google Maps community.

Here's Google’s full response:

"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. [..] Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymised data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community. We've launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia, and Egypt, though we haven't quite cracked travelling by wagon. We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time."

Published on February 05, 2020
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