Waze, the popular navigation and traffic alert app, has partnered up with the city of Los Angeles to make its service not only time saving, but potentially life saving.
The L.A. times reports that city mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Waze users will now receive alerts about hit-and-runs and even kidnappings. These instant alerts could potentially motivate the keened-eyed Waze user to report anything they witness in relation to the incident. With 1.3 million users in L.A. alone, its a decent network of extra eyes.
Apart from amber alerts and incident reporting, the partnership with the city would also provide users info about film shoots and events that could lead to road closures. Eventually, connection to the city’s 311 hotline system could allow users to report stuff like burnt out street lights and other spotted maintenance issues. Officials say that information regarding the user’s identity will be removed prior to submission.
While Waze is in this instance working directly with authorities, it has been recently in conflict with them. Waze allows for quick reporting of speed traps and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wrote a letter to Waze’s parent company Google stating his concerns. Beck wrote that this information could be abused by those looking to track down and hunt police officers in order to do them harm.
If it sounds like an overreaction, the unhinged killer of New York officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu reportedly used the app to track down the officers when he took their lives and his own in December of last year.
Police offers in Miami have also reportedly taken to sabotage Waze’s speed trap reporting in an effort to discredit the crowd-sourced data. Their hope is that the false data will remove what has been a hinderance to their traffic stop revenue.
Either way you look at it, it further proves the power of information and community. Hopefully though, these new programs being piloted in L.A. show how that power can be used for good.