Uber filed a patent on January 26th with the USPTO that would allow users to select a route that would ‘take safety considerations into account.’ This was updated on June 28th 2018, hence the limelight in the news this week. The ‘safe routing’ option has been classed as controversial for some users.
Uber would be using third-party data like academic databases, governmental databases, news media and even social media to compile ‘incidents of crime, or negative or positive news stories about a particular company or location.’ ‘Weightings may also be specified for greater degrees of granularity,’ says the patent, ‘such as for different sub-types of safety considerations (e.g., weather hazards, crime, or interpersonal conflicts with drivers).’
A similar system was introduced by Microsoft in 2012 but was quickly criticised by users for being an ‘avoid ghetto app’. In short, users assumed the navigation system would avoid poorer ethnic neighborhoods and complained about the vague and unclear application text.
Uber has not yet been granted the application.