Traffic Info Temporarily Disabled in Israeli Cities

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Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze have suspended real-time traffic updates, incident reports, and traffic alerts in some cities of Israel due to the military conflict.

  • The Israeli military requested this amid concerns over security risks.
  • Escalation in GPS disruptions might cut the region off from the rest of the world.

Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze have temporarily disabled traffic information in specific cities of Israel due to the ongoing military conflict.

Aside from telling you how to get to your destination, mobile navigation and traffic apps provide real-time traffic updates, incident reports, and the most efficient routes. The Israeli military, however, expressed concerns that this data could potentially be exploited for other purposes. Traffic jams, for example, can inadvertently reveal the presence of civilians or military operations in specific areas, which poses a security risk.

According to Bloomberg, the companies complied with the Israeli military’s request.

So, starting this week, users in the region will no longer see traffic jams, traffic reports, and alerts on these apps. However, the navigation apps will continue to consider traffic data when providing users with the fastest routes to their destinations, even though the users won’t see the traffic data itself.

So, you’ll see how to get to your destination but not why it’s taking an eternity to do so.

In addition to traffic data, Google has also disabled business information features in Google Maps. This feature previously allowed users to gauge the expected crowd levels in specific locations. This feature was introduced three years ago in response to COVID-19, helping users avoid overcrowded places. But these indicators are also seen as potentially sensitive information during wartime.

Messing with the GPS is neither a new tactic nor a first for the Israeli military. At one point in the still ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, Reuters reported that Moscow residents were having problems using satellite navigation in cars and mobile devices. Reuters then reported on October 15th that the Israeli military was “deliberately disrupting GPS services [in the zone within 4 km (2 miles) of the Lebanese border declared off-limits] and on the southern front with Gaza as part of its operations.”

Cut off from the Rest of the World 

If these disruptions become staples of a defensive strategy, telecommunications may suffer. Our telecom expert, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that, in telecom, GPS is used to provide a reference clock for the system. In layperson’s terms, if a mobile network site relies on GPS timing, disrupting it will break down telecommunications in that region. Results?

  1. Cell phone networks may experience dropped calls, slow data speeds, and other problems.
  2. Emergency services may have difficulty locating people in need of assistance.
  3. Airplanes may experience delays or cancellations.
  4. Financial transactions may be delayed or disrupted.

But in these wartimes, number 1 and number 2 are especially worrisome. But all is fair in love and war, I guess…

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