Opinion: Microsoft Helps Travelers Avoid Cold/Ghettos

January 11, 2012, By George Lang

Microsoft recently received a patent for a mobile GPS software mapping application (app) designed to help travelers (both pedestrian and automobile) avoid certain undesirable locations according to a variety of new factors. It has been unofficially dubbed the “Avoid Ghetto” app after a Seattle-based CBS affiliate reported the news.

Until now, live traffic conditions and construction have been the key factors input to global positioning system route-mapping programs. The new Microsoft app will include such input factors as weather conditions, terrain, and security risks (MSNBC); particularly for pedestrian travelers. See the video of Dallas’ ABC affiliate reporting their take on the matter at the end of this article.

Despite what the video says, the patent itself never mentions the word ghetto. It does, however, accurately describe the input data used by the app to route travelers around nasty weather conditions and high-risk crime areas. Some have interpreted that feature as a so-called racist technological innovation.

It appears “some” are unaware that high crime areas occur in Caucasian neighborhoods, African-American neighborhoods, Asian neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods, mixed neighborhoods, etc.; and if there is an app that helps travelers avoid them, we are in! The security FACTS are no different than the weather FACTS; they are just that, statistical “FACTS.” They may just help you reduce the risk of being a victim.

Then again, many of us ignore statistical risk factors altogether anyway. For instance, the FACT that one is 100% more likely to experience a catastrophic earthquake by living near the San Andreas Fault than most anywhere else on Earth has had little or no influence on reducing the populations of San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco; and, while that statement is definitely not racist, it is most certainly risky!

Top image courtesy Iquisitr, Ltd.
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