Russian invasion of Ukraine, pre-announced by “traffic jams” on Google Maps

Further thwarting Russia’s blitzkrieg plans, the invasion of Ukraine scheduled for Thursday morning, February 24, could be traced on Google Maps from an early stage, with troop and military movements appearing suspicious near the border. Ukrainian.

According to a report in The Washington Post, a team of researchers was able to follow step by step the movements of Russian troops using information on Google Maps, confirmed in the smallest detail with radar monitoring.

Most likely, Google “learned” the location and movements of the armed forces not from Russian soldiers directly, but from the civilian population trapped in traffic, after the armed forces set in motion.

The information collected anonymously from all smartphone owners connected to the internet plays a key role in the proper functioning of very useful services, such as accurate travel time calculation and choosing the best route, real-time alert for incidents. traffic jams, closed roads and bypassing countless traffic jams. However, during the war, this information is of particular importance, as it can decisively influence the success or failure of military operations.

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Predicting the invasion, the first suspicious roadblocks near the border with Ukraine appeared as early as February 23, turning into traffic jams spread over several kilometers, accurately indicating the locations of military convoys.

“In the past, we would have relied on a reporter to show us what’s going on in the field, but today you can open Google Maps and see people fleeing Kyiv,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. from California.

After Russian troops began marching on Ukraine, Google Maps accurately pointed to closed roads in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, along with suspended subway services throughout the city. It is unclear whether Google has activated the SOS alert system for Ukraine, which is useful for displaying real-time notifications of ongoing attacks, but it has provided Google Maps with useful information about the location of subway stations used as shelters.

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Google Maps seems to have become an unlikely tool – both for civilians and for soldiers on the ground in Ukraine, as well as for outsiders following the evolution of events.

In the meantime, at the request of the local authorities, Google has disabled the real-time display of traffic information. Company officials say the decision was made for the safety of the population, and the information displayed in public can also be used by enemy forces.

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