Google Maps has confirmed that live traffic data in Ukraine has been disabled to protect citizens during Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, according to Reuters.
How does this work?: All iPhones using the Google Maps app and all Android phones with location services on will collect anonymous traffic data and send the information back to Google, according to an interview a Google spokesperson gave to Business Insider.
- Using this technology, Google Maps tracks normal traffic patterns and will alert drivers when there is road congestion and direct them to a faster route. Users can also report car accidents, speed traps and other travel data to other drivers who are using the app, according to Business Insider.
More on Google’s decision to disable the feature: “The action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine (is) for the safety of the local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities,” Google said, according to Reuters.
- Last week, Jeffery Lewis, a professor and open-source intelligence researcher, tweeted that traffic data from Google Maps had shown the invasion on Russia had begun on Thursday, according to BBC.
- “According to @googlemaps, there is a ‘traffic jam’ at 3:15 in the morning on the road from Belgorod, Russia to the Ukrainian border. It starts exactly where we saw a Russian formation of armor and IFV/APCs show up yesterday,” tweeted Lewis.
The bigger picture: Google Maps’ live traffic data can be useful, however, it needs to be backed up with other data to confirm what is really happening.
- Satellite information from the Ukrainian border revealed that the data likely came from Ukrainian citizens facing roadblocks, not from the cell phones of Russian soldiers, according to The Verge.
The bottom line: Although live traffic data won’t be available, turn-by-turn directions are still available for those using the maps locally, according to Reuters.