Google Maps is one of the tech giant’s most used products and one use is checking out the traffic conditions of a road. When it is red, there is heavy traffic, yellow is moderate traffic and green means it is all clear.
This information is useful during rush hour due to the increased traffic on the roads. However, it seems like Kenyans are using the traffic data for a completely different thing.
According to Google, Kenyans are using that traffic data for something else: Checking out alcoblow spots.
To our audience that are unaware of what alcoblow means, it usually involves Kenya traffic police putting up a roadblock to check for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol. The drivers are subjected to blowing on a device that reads their blood alcohol level and if they are found guilty, this becomes a DUI offence.
“I’ve observed a peculiar use of Google Maps in Nairobi where users use traffic data very late in the night (for example after 2am) to deduce where alcohol checking points may be,” Google’s programme manager for Geo for Everyone, Jacqueline Rajuai told Nairobi News.
If tens of drivers log into Google Maps and set their phone’s location to be tracked, it will show heavy traffic when they coalesce at a possible gridlock. Late night traffic is usually light and if it shows mild to heavy traffic on some sections (denoted by yellow to red), it could mean that particular section is a probable DUI checkup point
This is one of the ways people use tool like Maps to check out crowd sourced data like traffic to stay ahead of the cops.
People have used Google Maps in crazy ways before. Recently, an artist was able to influence the Google Maps traffic conditions by dragging a trolley with smartphones on roads. It was so effective to the point where it diverted traffic from the streets he was in.
Google Maps recently turned 15 and with that it got a new look and features. The new user interface and logo look refreshing and this will still be one of the most important pieces of technology that Google has.