When selecting a GPS device there are many factors to consider, like map quality, points-of-interest integration, and if it can help you avoid tickets. That last feature is a big one. According to the Associated Press, Waze, a GPS app that Google bought in 2013, is facing pressure from law enforcement around the United States to disable its police reporting software.
Waze has built an audience by allowing users to crowd source information, telling drives exactly how long it takes to bypass bad traffic and, yes, where police have set up speed traps. This has drawn the ire of sheriffs in towns like Bedford County, Virginia who have made the slightly hyperbolic claim that Waze empowers smartphone users to be a "police stalker."
It isn't just small town departments who are complaining.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck complained in a letter to Google's chief executive on Dec. 30 that Waze could be "misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community."
In a statement to the Associate Press Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police said:
I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue. There's no control over who uses it. So, if you're a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.
Currently there have been no confirmed instances that connect Waze to any attacks on police officers.
The AP article doesn't address one of the major issues that may also be contributing to law enforcement's stance on Waze: speeding tickets. US Police departments use revenue from traffic tickets to help fund their departments. Sometimes that money is used in ways that gives police a personal incentive to keep the money rolling in. How much money though?
According to Statistic Brain, an average of 112,000 people receive a speeding ticket each day, with an average cost of US$152 apiece. That adds up to an average of 41 million tickets each year, of which only 5% are ever contested in court. US citizens pay out $6,232,000,000 in speeding tickets every year. That's $6.3 billion dollars in revenue every 365 days taken in by law enforcement. At the risk of appearing cynical, that sounds like an equally viable reason for these agencies to be worried about Waze spreading.
You can read the rest of AP's article here. Let us know what you think about Waze in the comments below.