How to Break Google maps with a red wagon
5th Feb 2020 In News By Jack Francis

A German artist uses 99 phones to convince Google that he's a traffic jam

Simon Weckert, a Berlin based artist focusing on technology and the trust we put in online companies, decided to make a statement on the use of Google maps in modern society. With his plan set Simon took his red trundle wagon filled it with 99 smartphones and took to the Berlin Streets.

With all the phones in his wagon connected to Google maps traffic mode as he walked down the streets he watched as the Google algorithm track his movements from all the mobiles he was pulling along. The amount of slow moving phones lead Google to mistaking the artist for a slow moving traffic jam as he watched in delight as the streets turned from green to red (indicating heavy traffic) causing Google to re-direct the actual traffic away from this so called jam.

When asked why he decided to mess with the Google maps system he replied "Google maps has fundamentally changed our understanding of what a map is, how we read and understand them".  His idea was to show how we rely on data to predict our reality,  he also wanted to highlight the blind trust the public puts in technology and apps, where people "tend to see them as objective ... thus data is viewed as the world itself, forgetting that the numbers are only representing a model of the world."

The event took place last Summer but the video wasn't post until last week in honor of Google maps 15th anniversary and has already hit 2.5 million views on YouTube alone. 

Google did take the art hoax in stride as a representative released this statement: "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 traveling by wagon. We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time."

Although Google is using this pranksters actions to help update their software, should we all be looking more and the systems we use and the information we're sharing with them. For a professional assessment of your systems and help with keeping your shared information secure call us at 01642 248 750 or get in touch via our email