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Google Maps, give me 99 smartphones and I'll change the traffic

febrero 3, 2020

The navigation systems installed on our smartphones have radically changed the way we move and the search for itineraries based on the indications provided. We have seen how Google Maps has constantly improved in these years thanks to the continuous developments carried out by the Mountain View house. Just to remember some recent news, at the end of 2019 Google Maps has changed slightly look, also (starting from the USA) has started to indicate the charging points for electric vehicles, compatible with the vehicle we are driving.

Unlike Waze, whose indications on possible traffic jams derive mainly from user reports, Google Maps is largely based on automated detection systems capable of calculating the volume of users present, based on location and time. Starting from these assumptions, the Berlin artist, Simon Weckert, wanted to combine art and passion for technology by attempting an experiment that we could almost call a mobile installation. The basic idea is quite simple, take 99 phones used with Google Maps started, put them in a shopping cart and evaluate their impact on the navigation system. The result is a video, it's called Google Maps Hacks and we propose to follow it.

The result of this experiment is quite tangible, the Google Maps servers have interpreted the concentration of smartphones as a traffic congestion, this in turn reflected on the indications provided by Google Maps, prompting drivers to find alternative ways in order to avoid a possible traffic jam.

As visible from the video, the roads were actually practically clear, almost deserted one might say, we can therefore imagine that the hacker's purpose was to dismantle the real utility of a service we are now dependent on, but it could also have had the side effect of unveiling a very interesting bug, which despite the far-fetched nature of this experiment could push Google to review its algorithms.

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