Alerts about hit-and-runs and kidnappings in Los Angeles will be popping up soon on the traffic app Waze, along with road closure information, as part of a data-sharing partnership with the company, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday.
Garcetti first mentioned the partnership in his State of the City address last week, saying that the city is sharing street closure data with Waze.
The information will alert drivers to city street repairs and permitted events such as farmers’ markets, parades, sporting events and movie shoots, Garcetti said today, speaking to reporters in the city’s central traffic control room in downtown Los Angeles.
“This is going to be updated in real-time, every two minutes, giving motorists the information they need to avoid those road closures and to get home for dinner in time,” the mayor said.
The agreement to add notifications about hit-and-run and kidnapping alerts was reached Monday “in a very good meeting that Waze and LAPD had with Chief (Charlie) Beck,” Garcetti said.
The app has already begun showing alerts about the street closures, and is expected to begin incorporating the Los Angeles Police Department’s hit-and- run alerts and Amber Alerts, which are sent out for kidnappings, in the coming months, according to Garcetti.
Garcetti added that this is “not a one-way street,” saying the city is also receiving real-time information about traffic patterns and road conditions from Waze as part of the data-sharing agreement “so that we can better manage our city streets, as well.”
The information can be used to improve the timing of street closures, deploy traffic officers and improve other city services, Garcetti said.
He added that the data that Waze is giving to the city is “aggregated” and anonymous,”without identifying any individual driver.”
Los Angeles is among 30 U.S. and international cities Waze is working with to share information, including Boston, Washington, D.C., Jakarta, Sydney and Barcelona, according to Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze.
“We are keeping this very small, because we work very closely with all of our partners,” Eisnor said.
Los Angeles has the highest number of Waze users in the United States, with about 1.3 million Angelenos sharing information on Waze each month, Eisnor said. The city is second in the world, behind Sao Paolo, she added.
“We are very, very excited that Los Angeles is doing this,” she said. “It’s huge for us.”
The data-sharing pact comes after LAPD Chief Charlie Beck expressed concerns that Waze would jeopardize the lives of police officers by allowing users to pinpoint their locations.
In a Dec. 30 letter to Google, which bought Waze in 2013, Beck wrote that by indicating the locations of police, the app compromises the safety and security of officers.
Beck noted that in the days before the killings of New York Police Department Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Dec. 20, the gunman used the application to monitor police movements.
Garcetti said today that the police chief’s worries had more to do with officers who are conducting investigations, and less to do with notifications about traffic officers, which often encourage drivers to slow down.
He added that in the conversations between Waze and the police, “we are also going to look at other data, like police stations and others that are close by — so that people will know — and have kind of a more robust presence … where policing can help add to safety on the streets.”
Beck said in a statement that he had “a productive meeting with Waze yesterday, and I appreciate Google and Waze coming to the table to elevate the discussion around how the technology can help improve traffic safety, while ensuring the safety of officers.”
— City News Service
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