By pulling 99 phones down empty streets, artist Simon Weckert made it look like they were gridlocked on Google Maps.
Google Maps hacks by Simon Weckert in Berlin, Germany (2020).
Artist Simon Weckert walked the streets of Berlin tugging a red wagon behind him. Wherever he went, Google Maps showed a congested traffic jam. People using Google Maps would see a thick red line indicating congestion on the road, even when there was no traffic at all. Each and every one of those 99 phones had Google Maps open, giving the virtual illusion that the roads were jam packed.
Simon Weckert did the hack/art installation to get people to think about the space we give to cars in public life and the data we rely on everyday.
“Isn’t it crazy [how] much space is used by a car in a city compared to the usage?” he said. “The hack shows us what is possible with this technology and who we rely on.”
To pull off the trick, Weckert rented 99 smartphones, all of them Android devices, and purchased 99 sims cards for them online. He said he’d spend an hour or two on each spot, walking back and forth on the street to generate a traffic jam. “My subjective feeling was that even this short time was already enough to change the traffic in the street,” he said.
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