Google has recently decided to disable all the Live traffic data in the country Ukraine.
Let us understand how it works first...
How does Google Maps Live Traffic work?
Everyone has smartphones in their pockets at all times. Even when driving - we have our mobile phones present in the car.
Google collects anonymized data from each individual phone.
And then they aggregate that data to calculate how many people are actively present on a certain route. For example:
If there is a route where usually the traffic would be around 5 - 10 people per minute. But today if the number of people is 70-80 per minute.
Google can flag this route as "busy". Since it is facing more traffic than usual.
Also, Google can track if certain devices are moving or not. So if many phones send live data while they are moving very slowly. Or are completely stopped - Then Google realizes that people are stuck in a traffic jam.
And thus updates the app to suggest that the road is congested.
What happens now in Ukraine?
Now Google has decided to turn off this feature for Ukraine. So people of the country will not be able to access the live Traffic details as they regularly would.
Why did Google disable Live Traffic?
Google says that they decided to disable Live Traffic for Ukraine - in order to protect the users. They will continue to serve the rest of the features. Like navigation, etc.
There are many reasons why live traffic data can act as a wrongful signal to civilians. As everything seems out of place - people are moving around and not in the same fashion as they generally would.
So this means that it can display congestion on a road even if there isn't congestion.
Possibly. It can also be used to estimate where the troops would be currently. Which can create fear in civilians' heads.
Does that mean the military is carrying smartphones - and are being tracked? Probably not.
It is most likely going to show congested because of civilians - rather than the armed forces. It is most likely the people who are moving out of the area.
Google is trying its best to prevent any form of fear buildup in Ukraine's people. Through their open intelligence means.
Based on their discussion with the regional authorities they have decided... It was in everyone's best interest to disable Live traffic data for the whole country.
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