There is no such thing as bad publicity, right? Well Microsoft will probably disagree. Their recently registered patent for a new GPS feature was nicknamed the ‘avoid ghetto app’.
This new software for smartphones and other portable GPS devices is intentionally meant to help travelers avoiding bad weather, tough terrain and unsafe neighborhoods. It uses a combination of information from maps, weather reports, crime statistics and demographics to determine the most effective route to their final destination. Sounds harmless and even useful, but Steve Ballmer (Here in Nova Collegetour) and friends are now being accused of potential racism and reinforcing stereotypical views of certain ethnicities and socio-economic classes.
Might be true, but even more alarming is its possible influence on cities. Dividing them into save and unsafe areas will chop the city in two, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by further isolation of already weak areas and marking whole communities as ghetto or no-go zones. The social and economic impact can be huge and many fear that a Ghetto mark will lead to abandonment, disinvestment and degradation of areas. Microsoft refused to comment.