Google is introducing a new Maps feature exclusively for New Orleans. In addition to providing the fastest route, estimated arrival time, and traffic conditions, the popular navigation app will soon also calculate the probability of getting shot while driving in the city and on the interstate with a new Crescent City-only feature called “Ricocher.”
According to a Google spokesperson, Ricocher has been in development for several months and is currently scheduled to be available next year. The feature is designed to help people make informed decisions about their travel plans.
“We understand New Orleans has a high crime rate and that people are concerned about their safety especially while driving, and we want to do everything we can to help them stay safe,” the spokesperson said. “By providing this information, we hope to empower drivers to make informed decisions about their routes and take necessary precautions to stay safe. It’s a great alternative to needing to dial 9-1-1.”
The Ricocher feature is based on data collected from local law enforcement agencies, crime reports, and gunshot detection systems. Using this information, the app will generate a color-coded map that shows areas with the highest probability of getting shot (red), moderate probability (yellow), and low probability (green). Users will also be able to view real-time updates on shootings and adjust their routes accordingly.
While the idea of a navigation app that helps you avoid getting shot may seem absurd, some locals have welcomed the new feature. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Antoine James, a New Orleans resident. “I’ve been living here all my life, and I know which neighborhoods to avoid, but it’s always good to have up-to-the-minute information.”
The new feature uses a complex algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors, including crime rates, gang activity, and the likelihood of encountering a road rage incident. It then uses this information to calculate the likelihood of being hit by at least one bullet while driving.
Not everyone is thrilled about the new feature, however. Some people have criticized it as being discriminatory and perpetuating negative stereotypes about the city.
“It [Ricocher] is ridiculous,” said Sarah Ferguson, a transplant from Chicago. “I mean, sure, crime is a problem there just like where I’m from but statistically it’s safer than walking because you can get away faster. Besides, once you tune it all out it’s not that big of a deal.”
Critics have also raised concerns about the accuracy of the Ricocher feature. “It’s hard to predict where and when shootings will happen,” said Dr. Aaron Greenberg, a criminologist professor at Orleans Collage. “There’s a risk that the feature could lead people to question what authorities are doing to keep them safe, and that’s never a good thing.”
Despite the criticism, Google says it is moving ahead with the launch of Ricocher and is committed to making the feature as accurate and useful for drivers as possible, which is set to roll out sometime next year.
“Our security team has been invited to a meeting set for next month at the Pontalba Building where we will discuss the feature’s finalization, rollout, future plans, and any errands needing to be run. We’re constantly working to improve our algorithms and incorporate feedback from users and support from local authorities,” said the spokesperson.
“Mayor [LaToya] Cantrell firmly believes New Orleans’ crime issue is ‘headed in the right direction,’ and Ricocher is here to help recalculate for any potential roadblocks. As they say, if you can’t beat ’em go around ’em.”