Way back in 2007 Microsoft filed for patent on a technology to help produce walking directions for people that are traveling in unfamiliar areas. The patent app is titled “pedestrian route production” and outlines a way to automatically adjust the walking directions given based n certain parameters like crime rate. The system uses more data than others to predict a “safe” route.
Geekwire reports that the patent app would take into account crime data and would route the walker around neighborhoods with high incidence of crime. The system would route the walker on a path that would avoid areas with crime data that is above a certain threshold. The directions would route the user based in part on things the user has cared about in the past.
Presumably, if the user ticked a box to avoid high-crime areas, they would always get directions that avoid those areas. Avoiding crime isn’t all the mapping system would do; it would also have options for other things like avoiding open areas where the walker might be subject to the weather. It doesn’t appear that this feature was ever implemented. Perhaps Microsoft feared a backlash at labeling certain neighborhoods as high crime.