Apparently, some people find themselves running two real-time mapping programs on their phone at once: Google Maps, and Waze.
The reason is that Google Maps seems to be a better, faster-loading map program that shows alternate routes on long trips more quickly.
But Waze, which is owned by Google, has one feature that many appreciate: It lets other drivers warn of the locations of road hazards and police speed traps.
People want to know where the police are. This week, Google announced the next best thing: Starting immediately, drivers will be able to report hazards, slowdowns and speed traps right on Google Maps.
Apparently this has been already being used in some cases by Android phones, but it will not be available across the board.
But one group that seems like it will not be happy is the police. In recent years, police have asked — or even demanded — that Waze drop the police-locating feature.
In February, the NYPD wrote to Google:
“The NYPD has become aware that the Waze Mobile application … currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints … Accordingly, we demand that Google LLC, upon receipt of this letter, immediately remove this function from the Waze application.”
The Waze feature — and presumably the new version on Google Maps — makes no distinction between police that are running speed traps, DWI checkpoints, or simply sitting by the side of the road.
Previously, the LAPD and the National Sheriffs’ Association also insisted that Waze drop the feature.
“There is no moral, ethical or legal reason to have the police locator button on the app,” the sheriffs’ association wrote in 2015. “We are concerned that terrorists, organized crime groups, and gangs will find this a valuable tool to further their illegal activities.”
Google has always responded by saying that drivers slow down and strictly obey the law when they know that law enforcement is nearby.