When technology falters, it can be dangerous.
Navigation apps and GPS devices have made their fair share of faux pas in recent times. But mapping services are constantly correcting errors using a combination of their own research and user feedback.
Anytime you hear people ending up at the wrong destination because of hiccups in their mapping app, it's never good news. Tragedy struck a couple in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week, when they errantly ended up in the city's most notorious favela, or slum area. They were using Waze to get directions.
According to a report on CNN, Regina and Francisco Murmura were traveling through Niteroi (a municipality in Rio) using Waze for directions. The app led them on a small road which took them to an area notorious for drug gang activity. Someone opened fire, with 20 bullets hitting the couple's car.
Regina, 70, a travel agent, died from the gunshots. Her husband managed to drive away. Police later reported it has identified a suspect in the killing.
The error: Reportedly, Waze took the couple to Rua Quintino Bocaiuva instead of Avenida Quintino Bocaiuva. That's like confusing "Road" with "Avenue."
Waze said it was "incredibly saddened" by the incident. They added, "unfortunately it's hard to prevent drivers from navigating to a dangerous neighborhood if it's the destination they select. Citizens who reside in these areas need to be able to get home."
The app-maker says it will meet officials in Rio to better understand how the city is addressing the risk of driving around these neighborhoods.
Apps like Waze will be used a lot by tourists and visitors at next year's Olympics, which are to be held in Rio. With the way the city is set up, about 1.4 million people live in favelas which are located quite close to tourist spots. Avoiding troubled areas is bound to be difficult.
Waze was developed by a group of developers in Israel and was later acquired by Google. Google uses a lot of Waze's features in its own Google Maps but the app is still available as a standalone download for both, iOS and Android. The app has been quite popular for offering unique features and is also AppRadio Mode compatible.
Google is also planning on bringing some advanced features of Waze to Android Auto.