Artist uses 99 phones to trick Google into traffic jam alert

An artist in Berlin has tricked Google Maps into creating traffic jam alerts by pulling 99 phones — with their location services on — slowly around the German capital in a handcart. Simon Weckert, who named his performance “Google Maps Hacks,” took to the streets of Berlin with a small red cart and a pile of second-hand phones, which he borrowed from friends and rented from smartphone companies.

Walking on roads near the River Spree — which appear empty in footage he released on YouTube — Weckert managed to trick Google Maps into thinking the phones were sitting in slow-moving traffic.

This resulted in Google Maps giving out traffic jam alerts for the streets he was walking along. One of his virtual traffic jams, he said, went past Google Berlin’s offices.

A spokesperson for Google said in a statement: “Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time.”

Weckert’s performance piece came just days before the 15th anniversary of Google Maps’ founding.He is not the only person to have toyed with Google’s data collection methods.