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Traffic app Waze to alert L.A. drivers of kidnappings and hit-and-runs

Wed 22 Apr 2015

Traffic-alert app Waze has announced a partnership with Los Angeles to share information on hit-and-runs and kidnappings taking place across the city, alongside traffic data and road closure updates.

The deal forms part of a data-sharing agreement between L.A. authorities and the Google-owned tech startup detailed yesterday by the city’s mayor Eric Garcetti. He assured that the data provided to the city by Waze would be “aggregated” and completely anonymous – “without identifying any individual driver.”

According to the councillor the collaboration was mutually confirmed on Monday following a “very good meeting” between Waze and LAPD chief officer Charlie Beck.

This move signals a considerable turn of events after Beck argued at the end of last year that the traffic alert app posed a danger to police due to its ability to track their location. The complaint followed the shooting of two police officers in New York after the shooter used the app to track his targets.

Beck added in a statement that he appreciated “Google and Waze coming to the table to elevate the discussion around how […] technology can help improve traffic safety, while ensuring the safety of officers.”

Waze, an Israeli-made traffic and navigation app bought by Google in 2013, already provides updates on road closures via user contributions. The new partnership with the West Coast city’s government will see further alerts pop up over the next few months, showing ‘amber’ incidents including hit-and-run attacks and kidnappings.

“This is going to be updated in real-time, every two minutes, giving motorists the information they need to […] get home for dinner in time,” said Garcetti.

LA now joins 30 U.S. and global cities involved in data-sharing schemes with Waze, including Washington, D.C., Sydney, Barcelona and Jakarta.

Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze noted that LA has the highest number of users in the U.S., with over 1.3mn Los Angelenos contributing traffic information to the app every month.

“We are very, very excited that Los Angeles is doing this,” she said. “It’s huge for us.”


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