Waze, LA Cops Bury The Hatchet, Figure Out A Way To Cooperatively Help People

from the look-what's-possible-when-you-stop-bitching dept

Earlier this year, we noted how traffic-monitoring app Waze had become public enemy number one among law enforcement. Police in a growing number of cities have been trying to argue that the service puts police officers at greater risk of crazed-stalker attack by allowing users to share and comment on speed trap locations. Of course what law enforcement was really concerned about was a reduction in speed trap income, and someone with a death wish certainly doesn’t need an app to locate a police officer in a marked car parked alongside a major interstate. There’s also that whole First Amendment thing.

Among those Waze critics was Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who not only claimed Waze made parked officers a greater target for crazies, but would aid criminal skullduggerists in planning their Grand Theft Auto-esque heists:

“Beck said Tuesday the app could be used by criminals to target police or to evade officers. “It is not always in the public?s best interest to know where police are operating,” Beck said. “There is a criminal element,” he said, “who are able to ply their trade and craft more effectively by knowing where police are.”

If you’re a criminal using frequently inconsistent, crowdsourced speed trap data as your lookout for your multi-million dollar heist, you’re probably not going to be much of an actual threat. Interestingly though, Beck appears to have come to (at least some of) his senses with the news that Los Angeles law enforcement is now working with Google and Waze on a partnership that will involve sharing kidnapping and hit-and-run data with Waze users:

“Waze, an Israeli-made traffic and navigation app bought by Google in 2013, already provides updates on road closures via user contributions. The new partnership with the West Coast city?s government will see further alerts pop up over the next few months, showing ?amber? incidents including hit-and-run attacks and kidnappings. “This is going to be updated in real-time, every two minutes, giving motorists the information they need to [?] get home for dinner in time,” said Garcetti.”

We get too few relatively happy endings (not that kidnappings and hit-and-runs are happy endings), but using LA’s 1.3 million Waze users as a force for good certainly seems like a welcome turnaround. Of course, that may not stop Beck from simultaneously trying to get speed trap data pulled from the app (and there are still some cops trying to flood Waze with bogus data to make crowdsourcing less useful), but it’s a good example of crowdsourcing being a positive agent for change — and not some kind of destructive societal menace that needs curtailing for the greater good.

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Companies: google, waze

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Comments on “Waze, LA Cops Bury The Hatchet, Figure Out A Way To Cooperatively Help People”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Curated content by big business and big government

More options are good, but I hope this isn’t mandatory. If it is, this opens the floodgates for other *sponsored content*. Of course, being owned by Google it would have happened sooner or later.

Getting unwanted ads in Google Maps was one of the main reasons I switched to OpenStreetMap based navigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

The cop should be glad that this app is bringing crazy stockers to them, now they can catch them without having to search for and chase them first. I wish I can create an app that brings criminals to police, that would make the police’s jobs that much easier.

Oh wait, police don’t actually care about going after real criminals. Easier to go after those that break overreaching traffic laws. An app that brings real criminals to police is exactly what they don’t want. Better to just let those criminals find some unarmed citizen to stock instead.

You’re a police officer. It’s your job to go after real criminals. Here is an app that brings them to you and suddenly you’re afraid.

vfxguy (profile) says:

While Waze may have made nice with the LA Cops, City Council has issues

It’s amazing. City Council already wants to use this to “leverage” waze into doing what they want.I truly think that some city council member lives in an area where through traffic has increased.


From the article:

A Los Angeles city deal with traffic app Waze may be great, but some local communities are being inundated with “cut-through” traffic that must stop, a Los Angeles City Councilman said Tuesday.

Paul Krekorian introduced a motion to help local neighborhoods, saying Waze should send drivers away from residential streets and onto major roadways as part of the company’s data-sharing agreement with the city.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced last week that the city is sharing road closure data with Waze to improve its service, and in return the city is getting live updates about traffic patterns around the city.

Krekorian introduced a motion saying that the city should “leverage” on this pact by asking Waze to point drivers to major roads, instead of allowing them to take short cuts through residential neighborhoods.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: While Waze may have made nice with the LA Cops, City Council has issues

“some local communities are being inundated with “cut-through” traffic that must stop, a Los Angeles City Councilman said Tuesday.”

The city council already has the power to stop this sort of thing in a way that doesn’t require Waze to change a thing: by changing traffic controls.

This has been common practice in a large number of communities from long before Waze existed, because when a major thoroughfare becomes the slowest or most infurating way to get through a neighborhood, people will start breaking out maps or physically exploring side routes in order to avoid them.

I’ve never used Waze or anything like it myself, but there are numerous major thoroughfares near me that become impassible during rush hour (which lasts about 4 hours). When I seek out a better route, I invariably find that thousands of people have already discovered the route before I did.

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