Waze, Google Maps direct users into San Francisco wildfires

Occurred: December 2017

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Google Maps and Google-owned navigation app Waze directed drivers into Southern California wildfires from which they were trying to escape. 

Users of Google Maps and Waze, in addition to reporters, reported that they were being re-directed into neighbourhoods caught up in the Skirball fires, putting their lives at risk. Some also noted that the apps provided no information about the fires, despite efforts by Google to provide updates to its systems using its newly launched SOS Alerts feature.

The Los Angeles Police Department was alerting users of navigation apps to avoid using them so they did not end up near the blazes, reported The Los Angeles Times.

The incident raised questions about the safety and governance of Google's mapping tools, and whether they could be trusted during a disaster. 


Operator: Google Maps users, Waze users
Developer: Alphabet/Google/Waze
Country: USA
Sector: Travel/hospitality
Purpose: Direct drivers
Technology: Machine learing
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Safety
Transparency: Governance


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