Artist pulling wagon fakes out Google Maps, creates traffic jams on empty streets

We’re always looking to provide more reasons for you to want to get your traffic information from WTOP — but we never thought of this one.

Artist Simon Weckert focuses on technology, and wanted to draw attention to the blind trust some people put in tech companies.

simon weckert google map
Artist Simon Weckert pulled 99 smartphones running Google Maps in a wagon, to see if he could affect the navigation app. (YouTube)

Last summer, Weckert walked through the empty streets of Berlin, Germany, pulling a child’s toy wagon behind him. Piled in the wagon were 99 smartphones, all running Google Maps.

Google Maps works by continuously pinging smartphones that have location services enabled.

So, wherever Weckert walked, Google Maps thought 99 cars were near him, thus indicating heavy traffic and suggesting drivers take other routes to get around the supposed traffic jam.

“There is no such thing as neutral data. Data is always collected for a specific purpose by a combination of people, technology, money, commerce and government,” Weckert said in an email to Business Insider.

A spokesperson for Google said the company appreciates “seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time.”

“We’ve launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia and Egypt,” said the spokesperson. “We haven’t quite cracked traveling by wagon.”

Watch Simon Weckert creating his art, apparently hacking Google Maps:

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