Waze, the popular hivemind traffic app, has a new enemy: the NYPD. Police are upset that the app is warning drivers about upcoming checkpoints where cops are checking for drunk drivers, and they're asking the Google-owned app to knock it off.
CBS New York from the NYPD to Waze's developer, Google, demanding that the app no longer identify DWI (driving while impaired) checkpoints. Ann Prunty, acting deputy commissioner for legal matters for the NYPD, said this:
“This letter serves to put you on notice that the NYPD has become aware that the Waze Mobile application, a community-driven GPS navigation application owned by Google LLC, currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations on the application. Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws."
The letter goes on to call Waze's ability to identify DWI checkpoints "irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving. Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.”
Waze is built on a mountain of crowdsourced data. If its users report a slowdown, for example, the app might suggest to other users that they take an alternate route to circumvent the jam. Google has started incorporating elements of Waze into one of its signature apps, Google Maps. Most notably, earlier this year the company .
It seems unlikely that a strongly worded letter will influence Google or its holding company, Alphabet. “Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google. We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road,” a Google spokesperson told CBS2 in a statement.
The app's hivemind approach has received criticism before. Residents in Los Angeles have complained that from the city's highways to residential areas en masse, sparking traffic pileups in neighborhoods. Residents there and across the country have taken measures to draw the app away from their neighborhoods, even to throw Waze off their trail.