App That Would Guide Users Away From High-Crime Areas Proves Controversial

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An in-development Microsoft smart phone app designed to help drivers and pedestrians avoid unsafe neighborhoods is proving controversial among some minority rights groups that find the software potentially discriminatory.

The as-of-yet unnamed product is being referred to as the “Avoid The Ghetto” app by those who are concerned with where it will guide users.

“I’m going to be up in arms about it if it happens,” said Dallas NAACP President Juanita Wallace.

Wallace spent her afternoon at a rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and said she felt safe there, but fears the app may project otherwise.

“Can you imagine me not being able to go to MLK Blvd. because my GPS says that’s a dangerous crime area? I can’t even imagine that,” she said.

Microsoft says the app will use crime statistics to determine what parts of town are to be avoided. But it’s unclear where the data will come from and how it will be interpreted.

Microsoft has filed a patent for the app, but the actual product is unnamed and not available yet.

Opponents like Wallace fear it could hurt minority communities.

“It’s almost like gerrymandering,” she said. “It’s stereotyping for sure and without a doubt; I can’t emphasize enough, it’s discriminatory.”

Michael McNally, who was visiting Dallas Tuesday, said an app shouldn’t have enough power to label a community.

“It may have a high crime problem but have some great cultural, social things you can do there,” McNally said.

Dallas resident Chris Hurst said it sounds like a good safety tool.

“I’d be all for it because you can never be too safe,” he said.

Tommy Jones, who works downtown, said an app like Microsoft’s could hurt a city’s economy.

“From a business standpoint, it could be devastating,” he said. “Especially in the area of tourism.”

Economic development is a major initiative that Mayor Mike Rawlings is pushing in parts of the city that the app may suggest against visiting.

Wallace is concerned this type of technology would continue to perpetuate stereotypes in Dallas and beyond.

“What happens in North Dallas certainly ought to be no different than what happens in South Dallas, so we can’t keep on doing this,” she said. “This type of technology is certainly going to pronounce and heighten it to some degree.”

Microsoft declined to comment, issuing a statement that said the company “does not comment on filed or awarded patents.”
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  • Robyn D

    it’s not stereotyping .. it’s just using information available on public records to let you know about a high crime area. You will still be able to get to MLK BLVD. How IGNORANT .. Is it ok with YOU if I don’t want to find myself lost in a gang neighborhood? Didn’t think I had to ask permission to protect myself.

    • Max

      “Can you imagine me not being able to go to MLK Blvd. because my GPS says that’s a dangerous crime area? I can’t even imagine that,” she said.

      How does the device keep her from going to MLK Blvd? Does it flatten her tires if she tries to drive there? Idiot

    • Michael Lederman

      Where the heck is the “like” button cause I’d be pressing it quite a few times!

      • Jim

        Click here.

    • Tim Lebsack

      Do you have a State of Texas Concealed Carry Firearms Permit? – now that’s asking permission to protect yourself.

    • gmason

      Of course many will need to be aware that some areas that will be listed are located in East Dallas and North Dallas. Park Lane & Shady Brook, Skillman & Forest, Forest & 635, John West & Buckner, Frankford where all the apts. are located, parts of Denton, East McKinney, Garland by the lake, etc. My concern is what crimes will be incorporated into the app. Would an area that has high burglary rates be included or are only personnel crimes to be included. In that case, South Dallas would be included because that area is high in person to person crime. However, there are many other African-American areas that are low inn crimes. I always wonder why South Dallas was the described area of African-Americans. There are less AA in South Dallas than Plano.

    • Concerned Mom of 5

      This app is plain smart. If the NAACP has an issue here, they should take it to their tribe and demand civility and lawful behavior. I don’t care to stumble into an area infested with ganstas, guns and drugs.

      It seems that the NAACP is more concerned about cutting off the livelihood to the hoods in the hood. No sucker victims, no cash intake. That’s what it’s about Whitey.

      • Luis

        Beautiful. Fu** the NAACP!

    • Shepherd

      Sad but true, every time they rename a street MLK Jr BLVd the place ends up becoming a ghetto with high crime drugs prostitution low property value litter and trash all over the place, gangs, you name it. If you want to destroy a community just rename the street and give it 6 months. Facts are hard to deny.

    • Ted C


    • Tommie Tee


    • icequeen

      its hard to face the reality of what your culture breeds! if you want change then act like civilized people instead of welfare baby mama’s and thugs with no regard for anyones life! you are killing your own children for Gods sakes. Chris Rock once said “If Martin Luther King was all about non violence why is any street in any city name dafter him the most VIOLENT place in the city!! Stop having kids with no fathers present and you’re culture will improve unless you’re just happy that way. And may I add, that real Africans are nothing like the thugs the USA bred!

      • The Bobster

        True, they’re far worse!

    • Ghostsouls

      How is this discrimination, let’s say you are black, and your 19 year old daughter is driving alone trying to find your new home, because she lives out of town. Would you want her driving thru the middle of gang land all by her self and possibly get car jacked, raped or murdered? It has happened before. Crime knows no color, and criminals don’t care either.Not only can this save app save human lives, but it could potentially keep people who would commit those crimes out of jail or prison for committing them. Why is it, since king obama took office, everyone sees race under every rock?

      • gmason

        She could get raped by a person she is dating. Most gang members do not rape because they have plenty of girls that are attracted to the gangster look and style. Most gang members hurt other gang members while others simply pick on illegal immigrants. If you look at the Dallas crime stats only about three whites are killed in Dallas each year. No whites are killed in Southern Dallas. Most murders are of same base race relation.

      • tobechristian

        This is the best app ever! If you don’t want your community to be listed as a “danger zone”, do something about it. It will be time for businessmen, parents, and responsible citizens to work for the improvement of the community and to delisted from the “danger zone”.

    • Nardo

      This is Texas, right? Not Maryland, where I live? I mean, what the F is going on here? I thought you guys were supposed to be the last bastion of common sense, hard nosed reality? Seriously?

      Sheesh….paging Ranger Walker

    • LaQuan Johnson

      You are a racist! So am I! I race the hell out of any black neighborhood I find myself lost in!

      • chris

        The comedian Chris Rock famously advised, ‘If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they’re lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is “RRUUUUNNNN!!!!”

    • Rowdygirl

      I agree ! I wonder how they would feel actually going into the bad neighborhoods at night, without their reps. and bodyguards.. I’m sure they wouldn’t do it.

      • Rastus Schvartza

        Command, I am a proud negro, yes I said it, a proud negro. I am 73 yrs. old and don’t shy away from words. I worked for 40 yrs. teaching the good word in Sunday school to children from all walks of life. I have found that black children have the shortest attention spans and run amok. Does that make me racist? Let’s define crime because when I see crime I see white crime as well. I see corrupt politicians who are mostly white, corrupt bankers and Wall Street who are almost all white and Jewish. I see Martians, green and blue who have caused untold damage on at least 3 planets so, don’t call me a hypocrite! Putz.

      • Douglas

        Don’t worry that someone calls you a racist for saying black neighborhood. Black neighborhoods are exactly the ones whites should be warned to avoid. Why would it make blacks mad for white to want to avoid them? They do whatever they want for their own race even having their own tv channel, yet they scream like a bunch of monkeys at the zoo when whites point out their own poor behavior and wish to avoid them

      • chris
      • Command

        I’d say black neighborhoods and without shame. A majority of violent crimes are carried out in BLACK or, if you prefer, African American neighborhoods. Beides Rastus – let’s get down to the truth – we all are prejudice – including you – so shut up you hypocrite.

      • Me

        Rowdygirl, It’s totally okay to be called a racist…It’s just a PC term liberals use to oppress your freedom of speech….Black people say racist for the same reason! So what if you dislike black people and their neighborhoods…they are easily disliked.

      • Rowdygirl

        I said “bad neighborhood” not black neighborhood. I used to live in the DC\VA|MD area.. it’s common knowledge that you just don’t go into some areas, no matter what color you are, or what color the people are who live there. Criminals don’t take the time to decide if you’re the “right color” before they victimize you. If that was the case, then blacks would never harm another black person, right?

      • Rastus Schvartza

        Rowdygirl, you really mean black neighborhoods don’t you? You are a racist.

    • Leroy Blackman

      Robyn, you really mean black neighborhood. You are a racist!

      • The Bobster

        Avoid the groid!

    • jrd

      Now if I said I WANTED to find MLK Blvd because I want to buy some crack .. that would be a stereotype .. a true one .. but a stereotype nonetheless. But truth be told, when the directions say use MLK Blvd, you already know you should avoid the area. Why is that ? Doesn’t Dr. King deserve more respect?

      • Jennay

        MLK does in fact deserve more respect – but it’s not the whiteys disrespecting him. Blacks are indeed being judged by their actions and not their color as MLK wanted – sadly its not the actions he was talking about. obama is NO MLK folks – clean up your neighborhoods and make getting a real education cool –

  • changomango

    “It’s stereotyping for sure and without a doubt; I can’t emphasize enough, it’s discriminatory.”——-So, high crime statistics (FACTS) are “stereotyping and discriminatory”?

    • Nardo

      Of course facts are stereotyping and discriminatory…just like GPA and SAT scores. That’s why we need affirmative action built into our GPS and computers now! How else will criminals be able to rob us if we know where they live and operate and seek to avoid them?

    • lahewet

      And don’t forget the “over representation” of minorities in the criminal justice system has nothing to do with minorities committing more crimes (sarcasm)!

      • slickzip


  • 1972Patriot

    Of course they are…. Search for “Somebody Here Cares Street’ and use your fumes to drive there.

    Take all of that money that drives your racist anger to lawsuits and use it to give your ghetto’s a face lifts. Oh, wait, that would benefit the wrong people.

    • algoa456

      I guess when they murder, rape, thieve and sell drugs in these areas it is just coincidence it is blacks. And the fact that we notice is racism.

      Thanks, I understand now. Saying anything bad against any black is racism.

      • labillyboy

        That sums it up Algoa456…

        And don’t forget, they have made it illegal in most big cities to carry a firearm to protect yourself should you happen to wander into one of these fine neighborhoods… Maybe they are outraged because it will cut down on the number of victims passing through for them to rob, car jack and murder?

      • RSK

        Folks – Robyn D’s sarcasm was lost on those of you who responded to her!

      • KellyRO

        So Robyn D. because I am white I am automatically a racist? Because I’m white I have had ancestors that owned slaves?

        How do YOU know that my ancestors weren’t white abolitionists that fought on the UNION side of the civil war? Or for that matter were even in this country at all? Because I’m white?!

        Who’s the racist?

      • Ghostsouls

        But Robyn D…. white people could not have bought and sold black people into slavery if it weren’t for one itty bitty detail… it was black people, that went into the jungles and across the land in Africa and other p[laces and actuallly kidnapped and took those people to the docks to be sold into slavery, they sold their own kind out, that is how the trade began. You think a few white men could go by themselves into the jungle and come out with a bunch of black people?

      • dave

        Well said!

      • Robyn D

        So true .. and don’t forget, it’s your fault they murder, rape, steal and sell drugs. Because of what you did to them 200 years ago .. remember when you bought and sold slaves? So … I’m just saying .. they are victims, right?

  • Darwin

    A great app to save your azz.

  • Craig

    Just wondering if you downloaded the app, used it to avoid certain areas but still wound up getting beaten, raped and robbed. Can you sue and get your .99 cents back?

    • Me

      What I want to know is, if the complainers succeed in getting this app banned or whatever, and I get lost, end up in the ghetto and robbed, do I get to sue the complainers because I was not allowed to be informed of the bad parts of town?

    • Mark

      Wow! it costs less that a penny for the app?

      • Rod Anders

        Price is dictated by supply and demand. It’ll get more expensive once people hear about it. Buy NOW!

  • Jsmith

    Jesse Jackson knew it’s true. So does Chris Rock.

    Being in the ghetto at night could easily lead to a darned bad experience and folks are well advised to stay out of there. Personally, I don’t see the app as particularly useful — if you can’t tell you’re in the ghetto by looking out the window of your car, the app sure isn’t going to do you any good.

    • Realist

      By the time you look out the window and see that you’re there, it’s too late. The whole idea is to AVOID being there in the first place. If you’re new to a city, it’s really easy to take the wrong exit and find yourself in a part of town you don’t want to be in.

      • Radlib

        True. It happened to me in Birmingham, AL once. Fortunately I was in a Jeep and did a 180 and got my lily-white backside out of there quick! The neighborhood went from normal to “Escape from New York” in one block’s distance. Cars stripped, buildings with the windows knocked out, etc.

      • LEL

        I was thinking the same thing.

      • TAJ

        Happened to me in Louisville…on my Harley…with my wife! Wish I had this app then.

    • Obama012

      It would prevent you from getting into the g h e t t o, in the first place. I had a GPS unit that took me to the heart of the barrio/ghetto when I was leaving a baseball stadium (we were vacationing there). To go from downtown sights to lock the doors and floor it, while seeing the half dressed aces is not a comforting feeling.

    • Terry

      At night it would be more difficult to “look out the window” and tell you’re in Ghetto. But then if you had the app you wouldn’t be there looking out your window even during daylight. So, maybe it is more useful than you think?

    • eman

      If you ever find yourself a rental car in Philly, then realize that you need to top the tank off before returning it….DON’T TAKE THE CHESTER EXIT NEXT TO THE AIRPORT!!!

      As soon as I pulled off the highway, I knew I was not in the right neighborhood. That brand new Buick stuck out like a sore thumb, and everyone on the corner was pointing and staring. To make matters worse, When you turn around to get back on the highway, there isn’t an on-ramp.

      • Jason

        The motto for Chester PA: If you can’t defend it, you don’t own it.

  • JR

    you could just tie the app to high murder rates instead of the ghetto reference. unfortunately the outcome would be exactly the same. Truth hurts and life is hard.. wear a helmet and STFU.

  • Cornelius

    I’m there! Only draw back is finding that new fried chicken joint.Oh well,better safe,then stolen.

  • Dan

    Apparently the NAACP is receiving donations from the criminals that would loose out on new “business” if the victims know not to go there.

  • algoa456

    Useful for people wanting to buy crack too. Just go to the areas the apps suggest you avoid.

    • Tommy

      HA! Great idea. I wonder if there’s a way to sync that app with the Drug Wars app. Then you’d make some REAL money!

  • Stephen Wilkins

    Michael McNally, who was visiting Dallas Tuesday, said an app shouldn’t have enough power to label a community.

    The app isn’t labeling a community, it’s just going to state facts about crimes stats in the form of a GPS route. The criminals are the ones labeling a community.

  • r finley

    Me thinks you protest too much, or, If the tennis shoe fits…steal it!

    • jrey762

      *ahem* If the Air Jordan fits…

    • Jack Davis

      Reminds me of the Ebonics Language Lesson…

      English: “I admire your fasionable running shoes”
      Ebonics: “Drop dem Nikes off yo azz befo’ I blast you Muthaf*cka!!”

  • Kasey

    How is this discriminatory? It takes pure data to determine a safe route–the machine is not racist or anything, it simply processes data. Juanita Wallace is a very foolish person to think that a machine would label a community because minoritys lived there–it would only avoid the area if it were riddled with crime. I think Ms. Wallace is being racist herself in assuming all minority rich areas are crime ridden enough to merit this device avoiding them.

    • Santino Vannozzi

      Your logic… it’s too much. /s

    • Patty Mudd

      Kasey, you bigot, how dare you accuse the estimable Ms. Wallace of being a racist? Only white people can be racists. Everybody knows that.

  • Justin

    If aliens came down and intercepted this software, before they even introduced themselves to humans, they would merely have a map of geographical areas with high crime rates without ever knowing the race or ethnic origin of the neighborhoods. For you to stand on MLK Blvd and protest such software proves that you are cognizant of the fact that Black neighborhoods are high crime neighborhoods…. Stop race baiting and actually do something about it for a change… No one wants this situation with low income neighborhoods… Not white, yellow, brown, and especially any self respecting black man. This sort of divisiveness only serves to prolong the problem.

  • hollywoodron

    App should be called, Avoid 100% Democrat Owned area.

    • Fen

      More like:

      Avoid Democrat Plantation

  • Tommy

    It seems like the NAACP has to have something new to get upset about every so often, and this is the newest “cause” they’re jumping about. Maybe they could design an app that helps women on welfare with 5 kids from 5 fathers update their food stamp allowance for the next 3 kids they’ll have.

    • slickzip

      AMEN right on ,,,,,,,,,,,

    • Ashlee

      Is that white privilege I smell?

      • abt4u

        In your case, Ashlee, I’m quite certain that it is white guilt that you smell. I know from my younger days that it sure does stink.

  • Justin

    Chris Rock does a good bit about MLK Blvd… I think he hits the nail on the head… Have a listen some time…

  • Cogito

    Of course…not wanting to have your children raped and murdered in a ghetto is racist.

    • dalek12553

      75 % of violent crime in this country is committed by blacks which represent 13% of the population according to the justice dept. Only 55% of prisoners in jail are blsck snd incacerated for those crimes. This is not racisist but merely fact. Yet, this is reported by statistics as racisit because, they say 13% of the population irepesents 55% of the incarcerqted. The real % rate should be, it there were unbiased justice in this country, 75% of blacks behind bars. Try driving through one of their gettos at night and see how safe tou feel

      • Realist

        @Len–go on the FBI website. The percentage of those arrested for murder is about 49% white, 49% black. However, Blacks only make up about 12% of the population. Now, explain the math to us.

      • LaughinghardinTX

        You are not counting all of the whites that have committed crimes and avoided punishment. The legal system is usually in the favor of non-minorities.

      • len

        Care to site a source for your 75% of blacks commit violent crime LIE? Didn’t think so.

      • dalek12553

        statistics of hte Dept of Justice

  • rodpeters

    Hey Juanita, white people use GPS as well. Is it “safe” for us to be caught on MLK blvd? I live near Camden, NJ and would rather not be routed through that location if possible. Wake up and smell reality.

  • humeskeptic

    Still waiting on the ‘avoid race-baiting NCAAP-type” app

  • Galin Toberfield

    It’s amazin to me that these fools feel their perceived right to not be offended trumps the safety of others. These areas practically count on strangers wandering blindly there so they can prey on them. Oh and “gerrymandering” is used to keep the same corrupt politicians in power that create these human waste lands.

  • Jim

    This is typical…you don’t like the app or feel it is discriminatory then don’t buy it. This is a free country and we should be free to purchase and use an item or not purchase and not use items. At my age I really don’t need someone making decisions for me.

  • hebgb

    …:“Can you imagine me not being able to go to MLK Blvd.”…

    Doesn’t say you can’t go there – sorry if your reading skill set is lacking and in your position I would be concerned that other peole would ebgin to notice that. Says you shuold be aware it might be a dangerous location and the choice is still yours to make.

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