- This sounds like a super-villain origin story to me…
Photo by henry perks on Unsplash
Google Maps has been a steady growing Google app since 2012. However, like other steadily growing apps, it can and has been hacked. Why would someone hack Google Maps? To create traffic jams, of course…
99 Hacked Smartphones, Real Or Hoax?
Performance Artist Simon Weckert posted a video about how he hacked Google Maps to create traffic jams on the streets of Berlin. In what he claims was an experiment, he loaded 99 smartphones running Google Maps into a cart. He has someone wheel that cart around various streets in Berlin, including outside the Google office. The phones apparently fooled Google Maps (GM) into thinking there was a high concentration of users on those streets. Because of this, GM was further tricked into believing that the traffic was slow-moving.
As A Result
The navigation app started showing virtual traffic jams by turning green streets to red, you can see the trick in action on Weckert’s Youtube.
GM uses data generated by users to identify fast or slow traffic as well as traffic jams. By analyzing things like speed, location, and other crowdsourced data, Google generates a live traffic map of an area or road.
Weckert Took Advantage Of These Features
As a result of Weckert taking advantage of GM, nearby users could have been diverted to other routes even though the streets in question were actually empty. Of course, the whole thing could be a ruse since the artist doesn’t really go into a lot of details in his post on his webpage to describe the hack itself.
‘Proceed To Route’
While Google themselves haven’t commented on this mishap, Torrey Hoffman tweeted and said: “I work for Google maps and I know quite a bit about how this works. I believe this is possible.” Mr. Hoffman is a Senior Software Engineer for Google Maps. Should Google conduct a full investigation? They should. If someone with malicious intent were to take advantage of this, they could reroute Google so that ambulances are diverted to longer routes.