Google has recently added support for user reports to Google Maps, pretty much allowing anyone to send a report for things like road hazards, traffic jams, and police right from within the app.
The police locator, however, is the one that’s causing quite a controversy, as law enforcement feels that this feature can be easily misused, leading to an increase in law violations, while also exposing officers.
National Sheriffs’ Association warned this week that the police reporting option in Waze is “a tool to facilitate ambush attacks on law enforcement and threaten community safety.”
“NSA is supportive of the Google Waze App but is emphatically opposed to the police locator feature within the App. There is no moral, ethical or legal reason to have the police locator button on the app. Our concerns are for officer safety and community safety. Wazers can use this feature to avoid law enforcement or to find law enforcement to carry out possible acts of violence against that officer. We are concerned that terrorists, organized crime groups, and gangs will find this a valuable tool to further their illegal activities,” an official press release reads.
Old feature, old concerns
The police locator isn’t a new feature, and despite being added to Google Maps earlier this week, it’s been around for a long time in Waze. Owned by Google, Waze is a community-driven traffic navigation app that relies on user reports for providing faster routes to user-defined destinations.
Google, on the other hand, says the whole update is supposed to help drivers stay informed behind the wheel, and not to avoid police and speed traps.
The recently added features are “tools that reflect real-time contributions from the community so you can stay even more informed when you’re behind the wheel,” Sandra Tseng, Product Manager, Google Maps, explains.
The new user reporting system is available in Google Maps on both Android and iOS, and it should go live on Android Auto and CarPlay shortly.