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Artist drags around 99 smartphones to fake a traffic jam on Google Maps

It actually worked
PHOTO: Simon Weckert

Tired of unruly motorists rampaging through your neighborhood just to cut past heavy traffic? Here’s a solution: create fake traffic jams to keep people away. Well, that’s what artist Simon Weckert did, and he actually managed to ‘hack’ the system.

In case you’re not familiar with how navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze work, here’s a simple run-through: These apps make use of crowd-sourced data from its users to provide information on real-time traffic situations in any given location.

By casually wheeling 99 smartphones around on a wagon—with Google Maps active on each mobile device—Weckert was able to create a fake traffic jam in the app that diverted motorists from the vicinity. While something like this would obviously have adverse effects on nearby traffic, it would cause other vehicles to steer clear of the area.

This isn’t an entirely new concept. Back in 2014, a group of students was able to ‘hack’ Waze (for research purposes, supposedly) using an army of traffic bots. But that previous...uh, study made use of Android Emulators to carry out the task, while Weckert’s gig was completed by simply dragging a bunch of ‘pseudo-motorists’ to trick Google Maps into detecting heavy traffic in a particular area. Refer to the video below for some short footage from the mastermind himself:

Would you do something this crazy just to keep people from driving through your side of town?

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PHOTO: Simon Weckert
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