Google – Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – has momentarily disengaged live traffic data on Google Maps to help protect citizens during the conflict with Russia, as it could provide information about the progress of the invasion.
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Disabling Live Information
As reported by The Verge, by stopping the anonymous collection of data related to road traffic and businesses opening hours, the internet giant is trying to protect citizens amid the Ukraine invasion.
Google Maps information can show traffic delays, roadblocks, and businesses availability, and hence depict the development of the invasion while people try to flee the cities. Until now, it was possible to know if there were people on the street given the app functionality.
In detail, the feature uses anonymous information about the location of smartphones —this data is public and accessible from anywhere in the world.
“The features have been disabled from global access, but Google says live traffic information will still be available to drivers using turn-by-turn navigation features in the region,” The Verge reports.
The Influence Of Data
Google’s move depicts how big data companies can play a big role in conflicts and international events given the great amount of information they process.
Often, this data must be mixed with other sources to offer reliable information. Regarding traffic jams shown outside of Ukraine on the first day of the invasion, for instance, “investigators were already examining the area using satellite imagery.”
“The smartphone data itself probably come from civilians stopped at roadblocks, not soldiers using Android phones.”
Professor Jerry Lewis of the Middlebury Institute was quoted as saying “I think big data companies often don’t want to face squarely how useful their data can be. I mean, it’s cool when we do it, right? It’s maybe less cool if the Russians were able to do something similar to, you know, spotting an offensive from Ukrainians.”
Google is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.