Google Maps disables live traffic information in Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Google has confirmed it has temporarily disabled some Google Maps tools in Ukraine which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are.

The company said it had taken the action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Ukraine is under attack from Russian forces who invaded the country last week. As missiles fell on Ukrainian cities, nearly 400,000 civilians, mainly women and children, have fled into neighbouring countries. 

Big tech companies including Google have said they are taking new measures to protect users' security in the region.

Online services and social media sites have also been tapped by researchers piecing together activity around the war.

A professor at California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies said Google Maps helped him track a 'traffic jam' that was actually Russian movement towards the border hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the attack.

Dr Jeffrey Lewis tweeted that the 3.15am heavy traffic was on the road from Belgorod, Russia to the Ukrainian border.

"It starts exactly where we saw a Russian formation of armour and IFV/APCs (infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers) show up yesterday. Someone's on the move."

"The traffic data is most likely not from soldiers carrying smartphones," he continued.

"Instead, civilians are probably getting stuck at roadblocks and Google Maps is recording that."

Google has said live traffic information remained available to drivers using its turn-by-turn navigation features in the area.

Reuters / Newshub