WAZE is a navigational app designed by an Israeli start-up that was later acquired by Google. The WAZE app is a bit different than traditional navigation devices in that it incorporates real-time data entered by its users, compiling information based on their current travels.
For example, a WAZE subscriber is driving along a freeway and sees a traffic crash. He/she then quickly enters the information into the app and presto, the crash appears on the WAZE map. Likewise, users enter information about traffic jams, cheap gas, traffic hazards (potholes, animals in the roadway, etc.), red light cameras. WAZE even features the standard turn-by-turn voice navigation.
The concern for law enforcement is that the interactive map also shows specific locations for police officers, and not just those officers who’re running radar. In fact, a quick check just a minute ago showed a police officer at the KFC in Napa, Ca., an officer running radar on I-80 in Vacaville, Ca., and another at the scene of a crash in Green Valley. FYI – Commuters heading to Sonoma should be mindful of their speed this morning. I’m just saying.
Here’s a screenshot of Napa, Ca. Notice the police officer icon near the word Napa. The triangular icons are road hazards. The one directly below the KFC marker indicates a pothole (a touch of an icon provides descriptions and exact locations). Other more personalized icons are individual WAZE users. A touch of those reveals their locations and vehicle speed.
The app could be quite helpful in some ways—avoiding traffic backups, etc. However, the concern among the law enforcement community is that the app has the capability of pinpointing the location of every single officer in every single community, and criminals who wish to carry out an assault on an officer now has an easy guide that could help them with their plot. In addition, it’s extremely helpful to a crook who wants to commit a crime because he now has access to the locations of the police within his town.
For the purpose of officer and citizen safety, law enforcement officials have requested meetings with Google officials to discuss the removal of officer locations from the interactive app. Whether or not they do…well, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
What do you think? Should the locations of police officers be removed from the app? Consider the number of ambush attacks on officers that have already occurred in recent months and years. Do the murders of those officers sway your opinion at all? Do you want criminals knowing that the nearest police officer to your street is miles away at the moment?
*By the way, drivers using the WAZE app while in motion are extremely distracted from the real task at hand…concentrating on their driving.