The phones were picked up as separate vehicles. Image Credit: YouTube / Simon Weckert
Artist Simon Weckert recently found a mischievous way to create a fake traffic jam on Google's mapping service.
The idea came to him during the May Day demonstration in Berlin when he noticed that Google was registering a large amount of traffic in the street even though there were no vehicles present.
It turned out that the system was actually picking up mobile phone location data from the crowd.
Keen to replicate this effect, Weckert accumulated a total of 99 smartphones, set them all up and then walked along the streets of the German capital while pulling them behind him in a small cart.
Sure enough, the traffic status in the area quickly turned red as Google registered a traffic jam.
The reality is that Google bases much of its traffic information on data from mobile phone users, so if a large number of phones are present on one stretch of road, it reads them as heavy traffic.
"Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymized data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community," Google said in a statement.
"We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time."
As things stand however, the search giant admits that it has no way to filter out such shenanigans.