Your future GPS to have an “avoid ghetto” option?

Here is some interesting news out of the world of GPS patents:

Microsoft has been granted a patent for its “avoid ghetto” feature for GPS devices.

A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.”

Created for mobile phones, the technology uses the latest crime statistics and weather data and includes them when calculating a route.

The patent, written in a combination of tech-speak and legalese, was awarded to Microsoft earlier this week. It also described other uses for the new GPS technology.

I wonder how exactly they will define an “unsafe neighborhood.” Even with access to crime statistics, it sounds like they will have to draw a cutoff line to distinguish between safe and unsafe areas. Where exactly is this line or is usually more about perceptions about which neighborhoods are unsafe in day-to-day life? “Ghetto” itself is a loaded term involving race and class and I’m sure there will come up in discussions of this new GPS feature.

I know companies are looking for advantages but is there a big need for this sort of information? Are people clamoring for help in avoiding certain neighborhoods?

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