An artist created a fake traffic jam with a wagonload of phones.

The Guardian looks at the way Google Maps is changing the way we look at maps, and the way one artist is hacking Google Maps to make a point:

Simon Weckert’s artwork Google Maps Hacks involved the artist pulling a small red cart at walking pace down some of the main thoroughfares of Berlin. The 99 phones in the cart, all reporting their locations and movement back to Google’s servers, gave the search company the impression of a huge cluster of slow-moving traffic, which was duly reported on the company’s maps.

“Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red, which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic,” Weckert wrote.

One of Weckert’s virtual traffic jams ran directly past Google’s Berlin offices, as the artist’s video footage showed barely any cars on the street – though there were a number of bikes and electric scooters.

A Google spokesperson said: “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.”

The work, revealed just a few days before the 15th anniversary of Google Maps’ founding, is just the latest example of a prankster taking advantage of the “crowdsourced” nature of much of Google’s data collection.

[via Nature Briefing]