A recently uncovered Microsoft patent is already generating a bit of controversy even though it could be years before any sort of product actually materializes from it. The patent is for an app that uses GPS technology to deter drivers from entering neighborhoods that are deemed unsafe. Of course, the conditions that are evaluated to determine whether or not a particular street is dangerous are coming under scrutiny.
Specifically, it will use data about crime statistics, demographics, and other less hot-button factors like the geography of the terrain and weather information. The concept is being referred to as the "avoid ghetto" app though of course Microsoft is trying to be as clinical and neutral as it possibly can. No doubt many users would highly appreciate this kind of functionality in their GPS. There are also people who use GPS technology for walking directions, when the profile of a certain neighborhood becomes much more important.
Then again, many more simply want their GPS to tell them how to get to their destination as quickly as possible, no matter what hazards may lie in their way. Microsoft's app idea is not one of extreme necessity, and there's a growing debate about whether or not it should be considered racist. For now, it's still just an idea written down on a piece of paper but if it ever materializes into something, the debate may get more intense.