Microsoft Patents GPS Feature That Steers You Away From Slums



Anyone who lets their GPS do the thinking for them has ended up on some uncomfortable treks through frightening backstreets and rough areas that you’d rather avoid. Microsoft has patented a feature that will teach a GPS advice to help pedestrians stick to presumably safer streets, as well as “an open area subject to harsh temperatures.”

CBS Seattle reports the tech, meant for cell phones, will take crime and weather statistics into account when it’s plotting out its routes.

Somewhat ominously, there’s also part of the patent that says the feature “performs a reward operation in relation to information obtainment or direction set production, wherein the reward operation rewards the pedestrian, an advertisement hosting service, a provider, or any combination thereof.”

Hopefully the patent doesn’t lead to GPS routes that steer you toward businesses under the guise of keeping you safer.

Microsoft Patents ‘Avoid Ghetto’ Feature For GPS Devices [CBS Seattle]


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  1. GMFish says:

    Rev. Jesse Jackson’s shit hits the fan in 3, 2, 1…

  2. Tim says:

    White people everywhere are rejoicing.

    • failurate says:

      I did read the first line of the article as:
      “Anyone who lets their GPS do the thinking for them has ended up on some uncomfortable treks through frightening bLackstreets and rough areas that you’d rather avoid.”

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        I’m sure you misspoke. You meant to say, blahstreets.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I take it that there are no white slums where you live?

    • tbax929 says:

      This black person would love to have that feature.

      But go on assuming that only minorities live in bad neighborhoods, or that all minorities live in bad neighborhoods, or whatever racist point you’re attempting to make.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        I had the same thought – that the the vast majority of people, regardless of race/ethnicity, probably have a desire to avoid dangerous areas.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      I AM mostly white, but the neighborhoods I avoid are mostly white too. I feel just fine driving with my window open down the street where the Black Chronicle is printed, one of my favorite stores is a little wig & makeup shop right in the middle of so-called “black town” up here in OKC, but I won’t go anywhere near the white-trash ghettoes where drug addicts wander the streets & you can’t stop at a stop sign without being swarmed by drunk hobos demanding money.

  3. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I hope my family doesn’t accidentally turn on this feature, otherwise they’ll never be able to find my house.

  4. LabanDenter says:


  5. deathbecomesme says:

    I needed this last night when Google Maps navigator wanted to send me through MLK blvd and Montopolis to get home around midnight. Anyone who lives in Austin knows you dont drive through there after dark.

    • td45 says:

      ex Austinite here can verify this statement is correct

    • sufreak says:

      MLK anywhere is an area to steer away from.

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        Not entirely true. The MLK drive in Philadelphia is actually really nice. It goes right along the river with a nice park and is a great alternate route to I-76 (along with Kelly Drive). It used to be called “West River Drive” until a few years ago, most people still call it.

    • MrEvil says:

      I’ve only lived in Austin a year and a half and I know to stay well away from those parts at night. Odd that Google Navigation would send you through there though. It’s usually pretty bent on sending you on freeways whenever possible.

    • Labratt21 says:

      MLK west of 35 = OK. MLK East of 35 = Thank God I have a CWL

    • AstroPig7 says:

      In Dallas it’s MLK Jr. Blvd. and Malcolm X Blvd.

    • ARP says:

      Chris Rock has already made a definitive statement on this. If you’re on MLK Blvd., run.

    • TDJ says:

      Every ghetto has an MLK Blvd. and a Florida Ave. If your gps shows you either one of those, no matter where you are in the US, tell it to reroute you.

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    I presume this means that GPS will be unable to navigate to any address in or near our nation’s capitol?

    • Marlin says:

      DC has not been the crime show for a while now, same with NYC. Mind you there are still bad parts of town but just about all major cities have those, even the “safe” ones.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        You missed the snark. Crimes as in Congress & lobbyists.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Since DC has a pretty notorious rep for tough neighborhoods, probably not an obvious enough reference.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I agree. And I’m a little curious as to how the parameters are going to be defined based on people’s perception. I know wee country bumpkins who would probably feel extremely nervous walking down some streets but they’re not dangerous streets, they’re just a bit run down and there are homeless people.

        • blueman says:

          It’s not about perception. I learned this from reading the actual story story:

          “…will take crime [and weather] statistics into account when it’s plotting out its routes.”

    • Derigiberble says:

      All joking aside I would be happy if my GPS didn’t try to route me through Southeast DC surface streets. Not that there is any real chance of anything bad happening but those streets are in awful condition.

    • 451.6 says:

      When we were kids driving around, the joke was that no matter where you started, any time you got lost at night, you end up in Anacostia. Of course, any unfamiliar place seems scary at night.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    I thought this was already invented. I seem to recall Garmin or one of the main GPS guys getting some bad press because it already did this a long time ago.

    Regardless, I think it’s smart to steer you away from high crime zones.

  8. WildGibberish says:

    Things like this are inevitable. It does make some sense. Currently most GPS devices give you the choice of “Quickest” or “Shortest” route. A “Statistically Safest Route” seems like an option people might like as well, or a “Driest” route if there is bad weather. Of course, based on the second part of that patent, soon I expect we will see the “Daily Discovery Route.” Which of course is the route that includes businesses that have paid to have travel routed by them that day. Sync those routes up with a Groupon like coupon system and you have a great opportunity for businesses. No only are people funneled by your business that day, but they are being given coupons as they pass by encouraging them to stop. I’m really just surprised it has taken so long for a company to begin offering business sponsored GPS results.

    • Rachacha says:

      I would love to see a GPS that provides “Most Consistent” route. Living around Washington DC, I can get to my destination in 20 minutes one day and 2 hours the next day for no apparent reason which makes it difficult to agree to meet at a specific time. It would be great if GPS makers could give you the shortest, fastest and most consistent routes. The Most consistent might take 45 minutes, but day after day it will consistently take 45 minutes making it easier to plan.

  9. Beave says:

    The less PC term is “avoid ghetto.”

    For the person who joked about their GPS avoiding Washington D.C… I’m guessing they’ll use violent crimes in their algorithms, not non-violent crimes.

  10. pop top says:

    Damn, that’ll make it hard for people to get around in Detroit…

  11. Snowblind says:

    Interesting thought:

    Could whole areas of cities disappear because the GPS routes you away/around it?

    Not necessarily because of it being a slum, but for some other reason… such as hacking or a rich community not wanting random cars driving through their neighborhood.

  12. Razor512 says:

    wouldn’t that make it impossible to calculate any route in queens NY?

    According to Microsoft, my my location will be a paradox where you get a growth in horribleness regardless of which direction you go. It will probably recommend that i don’t leave the house.

    also if you direct people away from those areas then the new high traffic areas will become the bad parts because the muggers will go to where the people are.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That’s a lot like where I live. My block is marginal but is surrounded by very bad blocks. Ghetto vs. non-ghetto areas are like a patchwork, where it would be virtually impossible to avoid bad areas and still be able to get anywhere.

  13. Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

    Stories like this always remind me of the Griswold Family Truckster going through east St. Louis.

  14. George4478 says:

    All my black, hispanic, Indian, and oriental neighbors love driving through dangerous, crime-ridden areas. They are very upset about this feature.

    • tbax929 says:


      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Some people don’t take offense to it. I just think it’s outdated and shouldn’t be used anymore. It’s not PC bullshit to say “Asian.”

      • George4478 says:

        Maybe it’s the nature of the area where I live. There is a tremendous Korean population and the English portion of their business signage often says things like “oriental market” or “oriental videos”. I didn’t think anything of it.

        Did I miss a PC memo or something? Am I supposed to use “Asian”? What, then do I call Indians? Asio-Indians? How about Russians? Asio-Russians? Don’t forget the Asio-Arabians, etc, etc. Now I’m really confused. I always thought Asia was a really big place with numerous ethnicities, but it sounds like there is only one.

        • pop top says:

          “Oriental” is for things like vases, “Asian” (or the specific ethnicity) is for people. You can call a Russian person Russian, you don’t have to make up a hyphenated name for them. Indians can be called Asian Indians if you want to get specific. There’s no need to try and pretend that you’re concerned over the proper names to use for groups of people when you called Asians “orientals”.

  15. maruawe says:

    This is turkey droppings slums are well known in most cities and when visiting some of the sports complexes are in these areas (cheap land and or revitalization ) So to be able to avoid these places is really hard in a new city. and a lot of places are slums waiting to happen..
    So to me this is wishful thinking on the part of Microsoft and just another patent to use to sue another company that prefects this type of GPS signature in cities.

  16. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    I guess that explains why my GPS can’t find The Soulard in St. Louis…

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      But then they’d miss Hodak’s. And that would be the real crime…

  17. CubeRat says:

    “…GPS advice to help pedestrians stick to presumably safer streets”

    As I don’t drive, this is what I need. The LA transit system likes to give the “closest” stop, and walk to their destination, ignoring the fact that the pedestrian now needs to CROSS an LA freeway to get there. Stupid metro.

    Honestly, I’d like to have a system that told me if the route to walk has sidewalks.

  18. BigDragon says:

    This is great news! Now Microsoft GPS software won’t try to send me into Baltimore anymore. What a relief! I’m sure the city will sue after they get done blaming the Grand Prix for all their woes.

  19. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Thanks to Google GPS we got lost and drove through a ghetto cul-de-sac where a bunch of people are gathered for some “party” (I presume). Either that or the party has started going bad. Lucky there were a couple cop cars on the scene starting to break things up.

  20. atthec44 says:

    Avoid roads named after Martin Luther King Jr. or Cesar Chavez and you should be good.

  21. samonela says:

    Come on, Ellen! We can’t close our eyes to the plight of the city! Kids, are you noticing all of this plight?

    **Gunshots and woman screaming**

    Okay, roll ’em up…

  22. Cyfun says:

    If you read the whole article, Microsoft also patented a GPS feature that will tell you where dem bitches at.

  23. gman863 says:

    Too bad MS doesn’t have a version especially FOR the ‘hood. I can hear the ad now (with apologies to Opie & Anthony’s famous “Delta In Ebonics”):

    Y’all fixin to drive out and get your travel on? The check it – beep Microsoft! You goin’? We already done been there! We got your favorite (redacted racial slur) hangouts covered like a jimmy hat!


  24. 451.6 says:

    Hmmm, my gps unit could never find my last apartment… I guess it’s a good thing I was forced to move.

  25. amgriffin says:

    Wonder what three or four streets of my beloved Memphis TN this wondrous algorithm will decree to be safe? My favorite hobby of watching frightened tourists may be compromised.

  26. baristabrawl says:

    And by “slums” you mean ghettos and places where I can be car jacked? I’m okay with that. Unrelated: I’m a big caucasian gay dude.