How to virtually block a road: Take a walk with 99 phones

File this under brilliant technology hack. For those of you who live on a formerly quiet, safe street that has now been overrun thanks to Waze and Google Maps sending traffic your way, you don't need mad coding skills to make Google Maps show you bad data.

The little red wagon full of phones is the idea of German artist Simon Weckert, whose projects focus on "hidden layers" in technology and examine the social and moral effects of the modern electronics-based lifestyle.
Google Maps determines congestion by gathering the location and motion speed of phones in a given area. Generally speaking, those phones are going to be in the road because they're with drivers, inside vehicles, and so measuring the phones' speed is a reasonably decent proxy for measuring vehicle speed. Those data points, aggregated, make a road look green on the map if traffic seems to be moving smoothly, or they look red on the map if traffic appears to be severe. When traffic is severe, the map's navigation software will reroute drivers around the congestion when possible.


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