Police officers in Miami are intentionally trying to ruin Google's traffic crowdsourcing app -- here's why

Google’s Waze app is powerful: It gives you GPS support, turn-by-turn directions, and plenty of information about travel times, routes, detours, and more.

Most of the app’s information is crowdsourced by other Waze drivers, in order to improve the real-time accuracy of the service. It will alert you to traffic accidents, road hazards, and even fuel prices.

Problem is, some police officers are not a fan of Waze. Specifically, these police officers do not like how Waze users can report the locations of police speed traps.

Waze doesn’t single out “speed traps,” specifically — it allows people to mark any location of police or emergency vehicles on the road for any reason, in case there’s an accident or a problem — but some officers still think this is an issue of public safety.

So, according to Autoblog (via TechDirt), police officers in Miami have been downloading the Waze app for themselves, using it to flood the database with false locations for police speed traps.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, tells NBC Miami that disclosing the locations of these police speed traps “puts us at risk, puts the public at risk, because it’s going to cause more deadly encounters between law enforcement and suspects.”

Some officers believe Waze could help criminals attack police officers, in the same way NYPD officers were ambushed and killed in their car in December.

Of course, not all officers feel this way: Since police traps are visible — their cars are marked and usually in plain sight — many don’t believe you need an app to target a police officer, according to Autoblog. If anything, these officers believe higher visibility of police officers would reduce crime rates.

Yet, even though what Waze users are doing is perfectly legal — the head of the Center for Democracy and Technology
says “Waze represents person-to-person information in the public square, and that’s long been a US right under the Constitution” — some police officers are chalking up Waze’s crowdsourcing to “police stalking.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, Waze spokesperson Julie Mossler said the app is designed to improve traffic safety because noting any emergency vehicles on the road — including police cars — would encourage speeding drivers to slow down.

“Most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby,” she said.

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