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Microsoft Patents Bad Neighborhood Detection

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-sure-why-people-are-so-worked-up-about-it dept.

Microsoft 317

PolygamousRanchKid writes with these lines culled from InformationWeek: "With the grant of their US Patent #8090532 Microsoft may be attempting to corner the market on GPS systems for use by pedestrians, or they may have opened a fertile ground for discrimination lawsuits. ... Described as a patent on pedestrian route production, the patent describes a two-way system of building navigation devices targeted at people who are not in vehicles, but still require the use of such a device to most efficiently route to their destination. ... For example, the user inputs their destination and any constraints or requirements they might have, such as a wheelchair accessible route, types of terrain they are willing to cross, the option of public transportation, and a way point such as the nearest Starbucks on the route. Any previously configured preferences are also considered, such as avoiding neighborhoods that exceed a certain threshold of violent crime statistics (hence the description of this as the 'avoid bad neighborhoods' patent), fastest route, most scenic, etc." Having lived in some high-crime neighborhoods, the actual feature (versus the patent) sounds like a great idea to me.

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317 comments

Very subjective (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38629824)

What you call a bad neighborhood, I may call home. Where do I send the money for the lawsuit?

Re:Very subjective (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629872)

RTFS: "neighborhoods that exceed a certain threshold of violent crime statistics."

Re:Very subjective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630012)

Notice, they say "violent crimes", I wonder if you change to all crimes how it will work ... It will probably keep you away from the rich neighbourhoods where CEO's and politicians live. Although they're probably gated communities in the first place.

I don't really know about people calling a neighbourhood home, but business owners will be the most pissed about this. Especially since they'll have to pay to get listed.

Re:Very subjective (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630120)

A disproportionate number of violent crimes are committed by blacks, at least in America and Africa.

Even if you aren't attacked, such a technology could save you a lot of stress and embarrassment. Have you ever walked with an attractive white woman past a group of black men?

Whoo-WEE! Hey, baby, wanna real man?

Dayum! Bitch be bangin! Lookat dat little punk she wit'

Fo' sho,' nigga, I turn dat girl out real good.

And they will all slowly crane their heads as you walk by, like hyenas, and they will say those things out loud without regard to anybody within earshot. Some of you may find this comment offensive, but truth is not politically correct.

Re:Very subjective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630190)

Sounds like you are the bitch if they talk that way in front of you. Its not her they're disrespecting its your pencil dick packing faggot ass

Re:Very subjective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630288)

Blacks have super strength and quick, base tempers, which make them ideal for committing crimes.

I am not a small man, and I do not have a small penis. However, I cannot physically compete with the strength and aggression of the negro and so going up against several is not an option for me.

Since that fateful day walking through Torrance, I have decided to "pack" an equalizer of my own: a .357 snub-nose Smith and Wesson revolver, open carry, six in the cylinder at all times in spite of the law.

I am no longer a humbled honkey - I am a mighty whitey.

Re:Very subjective (4, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630028)

Use this tool to figure out which route the rich kids with cell phones are taking and relieve them of their property.

Re:Very subjective (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630146)

Add accelerometers and detect "GPS A approaches GPS B - sudden impact accelerations - GPS B begins sharing coordinates with GPS A". Block GPS A and update violent crimes map (also, call 911).

Re:Very subjective (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630718)

No, dude. It's ...you know... when you are ...like... new in town, yaknowwaddamean? And you need to score ...like... you know ... some weed then that's totally awesome, dude. You could score a whole barn of weed...
Hehe, want a toke on this?


Something along that line. Or maybe prostitutes. Or really cheap kebaps. Or every inner city bus stop that's ever been in existence since the history of forever.

Re:Very subjective (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630656)

I don't think there's an app for that. You will need local knowledge. And some common sense. Unpacking your Android 3g 10.1'' tablet and firing up Google maps at 2am in a dark corner of Nottingham in plain sight of two shady figures might not be a good idea. You'll be lit up like a christmas tree and might as well hold up a billboard saying "You can has Win7 tablet". They might stroll over to you and ask you if you are lost and give you the correct directions. Then again, they might not.


For all intents and purposes teens and idiotic 20 somethings who think gaining anything by force is a sustainable way of living are a rather sad sight to behold. Unfortunately they tend to clump together making neighbourhoods indeed go bad.

But as long education costs money which is to be coughed up by those who need education to actually earn money we fat lazy comfortable bastards can bitch and moan as much as we want.

Cool. Another proposal for a technical solution for a social problem. Spot on, Microsoft! Well done!

Re:Very subjective (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629900)

Crime rates don't care what you call home, and if I'm travelling _I_ don't care what you call home.

If you live in a high crime area, you don't need me as a visitor. You have no complaint.

Re:Very subjective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630022)

If you live in a high crime area, you don't need me as a visitor.

If he's a mugger, rapist, serial killer, or worse, he may indeed "need" you as a visitor. It's just that you have a much more valid need NOT to "visit" with him!

You have no complaint.

He has a complaint ("victim no make life easy for me"). (I never said it was a valid one!)

Re:Very subjective (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630082)

If you live in a high crime area, you don't need me as a visitor. You have no complaint.

Well, unless he is a criminal, in which case he does want you as a visitor.

On a more serious note though, shying folks away from certain neighborhoods will decrease business to those areas, depressing them even further and, well, encouraging more crime. If this ever caught on, it would open a basket of crap. What if Bing goofed and blacklisted the wrong neighborhood? What if the bad neighborhood is trying to get some kind of renewal going, and businesses there desperately need the income? This would only delay things further, perhaps to the point of failure.

I get the whole safety concept of it, but honestly, this begins to meddle in a lot of things that really shouldn't be meddled in.

Okay, case in point: Highway 71 through Kansas City. Going southbound, it is very easy to miss a vital turn-off, and get deposited into one very rotten neighborhood. OTOH, during the day the folks are friendly enough, and I was able to ask directions, get gas, buy snacks, and one time to get a bad tire replaced. Once the sun went down, that place was not where you wanted to be (nearly everyone I spoke to there said as much), but during the day it was no problem. It eventually got so that I intentionally made stops there if I was passing through during the day, because quite a few of the business owners were very glad to see a stranger's face, the prices were reasonable, and they were a hell of a lot friendlier than the ones in better neighborhoods (let alone the truck stops).

As someone who spent a good share of his childhood living in such areas, I'm not put off by the fact that often I was often the only caucasian-skinned guy in some of the establishments, so I guess my lack of anxiety may be a factor in all of this.

In all though, that's a whole lot of subtle nuances that I sincerely doubt an algorithm could pick up on, and I suspect that a lot of otherwise good people are going to get screwed over by this thing.

Re:Very subjective (5, Insightful)

mwehle (2491950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630286)

this begins to meddle in a lot of things that really shouldn't be meddled in.

WTF? My ignorance of crime rates is something that shouldn't be meddled in, because I have an imagined obligation to support businesses I know nothing about? Your choice to support businesses in what you describe as "one very rotten neighborhood" is *your* choice. I'd like to have access to crime data, if available, before I walk through an area that I'm unfamiliar with. If, as you suggest, there is some significant difference in crime incidence during daylight hours as opposed to darkness, I'd like to know that, also. The idea that merchants who are unknown to me are somehow entitled to my ignorance of crime rates, though, is bizarre.

Re:Very subjective (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630422)

I'm talking about meddling in areas such as renewal projects, shopping patterns/habits, and in general helping folks who live in that neighborhood rise above the bad situation they're in. Consider also this: What if the system were abused? What if neighborhoods (or rather, townships) were offered an 'out' from the blacklisting for a fee?

Also, what of the opposite? I can tell you right now that a black man in Harrison, Arkansas [pbs.org] after dark is in greater physical danger than he would ever be in Compton, California. Would his particular GPS indicate that maybe he should keep driving until he sees a safer town for him (say, Sprinfgield, MO)?

Finally, since crime statistics are compiled on an annual basis, and often change from area to area each year, what you'd get is outdated at best, so it may well be useless to you in either event.

If, as you suggest, there is some significant difference in crime incidence during daylight hours as opposed to darkness, I'd like to know that, also.

Indeed, but I doubt the patent's stated goal would cover that, which is why I mentioned it.

Re:Very subjective (4, Funny)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630006)

You live in Baltimore?

Good idea, if it's never been done before. (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629834)

It seems like dangerous water to tread, though. We all know there'll be lawsuits with people complaining that Bing Maps is avoiding minority neighborhoods.

Re:Good idea, if it's never been done before. (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630036)

Which it will, assuming the minority neighborhood in question has a statistically higher crime rate. The pocket of Indian and Chinese professionals down the street from me are a "minority neighborhood." Crime rates there are not exceptionally high. Crime correlates with poverty, not flavor.

Re:Good idea, if it's never been done before. (4, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630346)

We all know there'll be lawsuits with people complaining that Bing Maps is avoiding minority neighborhoods.

People have tried that for years with pizza delivery services. We had a large map on the wall, with several areas blocked off. If you live in that area..no pizza for you. The store simply says "We don't deliver to that neighborhood." Discrimination, racism, lawsuit ensues.
If you're aware of any lawsuits that have been successful, I'd like to hear about them.

Patents on Algorithms (1)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629848)

That's all this is; an algorithm that say don't go this way unless I want to pickup a lady-of-the-night

Re:Patents on Algorithms (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629902)

Or a man of the night. Or several men of the night who are all too happy to see you.

Also, they're patenting the idea of the algorithm "that say don't go this way... etc." Not an actual algorithm. No methods were harmed during the making of this filing. I would call that worse. Here's the patent [uspto.gov] so you can wince for yourself.

Re:Patents on Algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630232)

You cannot patent an "idea", you idiot!
You can only patent a implementation.

So either you talk bullshit, or their patent is invalid. Even if they say otherwise. Even if the patent office says otherwise. Period.

Re:Patents on Algorithms (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630316)

Read the patent. I linked to it. Their "method" consists of specifying junk like the wireless spectrum used. It's as wrong as it sounds.

Re:Patents on Algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630386)

..... so tired of patents on "ideas/concepts" that have no substance. Actual algorithm or GTFO.

All this does is abuse the patent system, perverting it into some non-competition troll fest.

Re:Patents on Algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630526)

What's covered in a patent is defined by the CLAIMS. Whether or not a patent is valid is determined based on the scope of the claims, not the Abstract or the Summary. And to infringe a claim, you have to do every single step defined in the claim (or include every component defined in the claim, or whatever the case may be).

Here's a claim from this patent:

7. Computer storage media having embodied thereon computer-useable instructions that, when executed, perform a method, the method comprising:

          collecting a request from a pedestrian that a route includes a waypoint to a general location;

          locating at least one information source, retaining pedestrian history from a plurality of pedestrians and addresses of at least one information source that has a history of providing reliable information, identifying low quality information sources that do not provide information used in route generation, and blocking information obtainment for the low quality information sources;

          obtaining information related to pedestrian travel including security information, weather information, and terrain information, wherein the gather component obtains the information from the at least one located information source;

          making at least one inference regarding a route based on a previous pedestrian behavior;

          determining, based on the at least one inference, the information that is likely relevant and deleting information that is commonly of little value in part through examination of previously produced routes;

          determining an importance of the information to a user, estimating how likely the information is to change, and choosing if the user should reach the destination through pedestrian route and/or through a conventional route;

          resolving conflicts between an information source with a financial interest and an information source without a financial interest and producing a direction set based upon the information source that does not have a financial interest in providing the direction set;

          collecting information concerning routes of other people; and

          using the collected information to update the pedestrian-based route in real time.

Claim 7 covers a "Computer storage media." This is a Beauregard claim. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_patent_claim_types#Beauregard . What it's saying is, to infringe this claim, you'd need to have a "computer storage medium" (e.g., hard disk/optical disk) that has instructions on it that tell a processor to perform the method that's defined in the rest of the claim. To infringe this claim, the instructions on your storage medium would have to perform each and every step in the method.

Looks like an algorithm to me. Maybe not the most clever idea ever invented, but it . . . actually does something. I don't see how you could say they've patented the "idea of the algorithm" here.

Re:Patents on Algorithms (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630702)

Simple. The patent claims are "making at least one inference", "estimating", "determining an importance", "resolving conflicts"... and so on. Those are not methods. I don't see any equations or anything of the sort. This isn't as specific as the traditional kind of patent (e.g. the proverbial shoe heel [google.com] ) that relies upon a concrete description of what is being protected.

The last time I spoke to an IP lawyer for my university's technology transfer office, he made the following point: when you patent something, you're giving up the secrecy of your method so that it can be put under legal protection. What Microsoft has done is attempted to prevent people from combining GPS instruments with crime statistics. They haven't exposed how they actually do what they're doing, or planning on doing; only the obvious consequences of what's necessary from the original idea, that any programmer could work through in a few minutes. That's not how patents are supposed to work.

Doesn't this count as being too broad? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629866)

I mean isn't this one of the things layers in GIS meant for: describing characteristics for points and areas on a map? Simplifying this but after you have done that, doesn't it just come down to some sort of switch or if statements. If so, it sounds like the patent is just too general. Or not? It sounds ridiculous if you ask me though.

wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38629878)

More MS hating on linux site? Shocker!

Philadelphia (2)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629890)

Instead of a dot representing the city on a map it should be a skull and crossbones.

Re:Philadelphia (3, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630164)

Sorry, but Detroit called 'dibs'.

Re:Philadelphia (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630532)

Man, I grew up in Philly, and even 30 years ago I remember kids getting shot and killed at the playground near my house over their fucking shoes, crack pipes in the gutters on the way to school...

I can't even imagine what things are like now. Glad I got out of there...

Political Correctness? (4, Insightful)

acidradio (659704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629898)

Why should we all have to suffer at the hands of being politically correct? A bad neighborhood is what it is - BAD! It So that someone in that "bad" neighborhood isn't "offended" why should I have to risk my safety?

I wish something like this would have existed when I chose my current house. The neighborhood looks great during the day but once it becomes dark all the bums and the freaks come out. They are all drunk or high and they do things out of "boredom" (as a police officer told me). Like vandalize my car and leave bloody handprints on the glass.

Re:Political Correctness? (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629938)

Its because those indicators will often fall along racial lines, and for a while now here in America you have been forbidden to tell the truth.

Re:Political Correctness? (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630722)

"Its because those indicators will often fall along racial lines"

Crime is crime. If your little pocket of town has higher crime than another then it's not somewhere I want to walk. When I travel, I don't know what areas to avoid.

Give you a couple of examples from business trips. In Baltimore, driving thank god, I see these row houses up on a hill. Looks nice from where I am, so I exit the freeway to go take a look. Whoa. Crack house city. Another time, in Memphis, on foot. Looking for a restaraunt downtown. A guy stops me and says "you're not from around here are you? you don't want to be on foot going the direction you're going". Find out later I was heading to a lovely slice of urban crime. Anyway, in both cases, a little routing via GPS that said !!!DON'T GO HERE!!! would be nice.

Anyway, as a visitor, I don't care what the underlying causes are, I'm in no position to make a difference OTHER than by becoming a new crime statistic.

Re:Political Correctness? (1, Flamebait)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629990)

Quite right. All crimes with location data should be in a national online database so bad areas can be avoided.

I have a policy when dealing with realtors. It's not AT ALL politically correct, but my safety trumps everything else so I don't pretend to care.

I select realtors of similar demographics to myself, and bluntly inform them I want "no/few fucking neighbors, and none who are poor, and none who don't look like me".

I got what I wanted.

VOLUNTARY segregation is "the right of free association", and I'm all about me so I practice it when making the massive investment of a home. That's no time to bother with principles which are not to your advantage.

Re:Political Correctness? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630054)

Quite right. All crimes with location data should be in a national online database so bad areas can be avoided.

I have a policy when dealing with realtors. It's not AT ALL politically correct, but my safety trumps everything else so I don't pretend to care.

I select realtors of similar demographics to myself, and bluntly inform them I want "no/few fucking neighbors, and none who are poor, and none who don't look like me".

I got what I wanted.

VOLUNTARY segregation is "the right of free association", and I'm all about me so I practice it when making the massive investment of a home. That's no time to bother with principles which are not to your advantage.

Posting anonymously as I'm moderating on this thread.

Wishing for a "racist asshole" mod.

Re:Political Correctness? (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630072)

I select realtors of similar demographics to myself, and bluntly inform them I want "no/few fucking neighbors, and none who are poor, and none who don't look like me".

Since we are being politically incorrect, let me just say that you are part of the problem, you are not the solution. And you aren't even unique. Living in a small town in NC, I see plenty of assholes just like you. You can call it "Voluntary Segregation" all you want, but it simply boils down to bigotry. You think your race is better than any other race. It doesn't even matter what race you are.

There is a broad line between free association and "I'm not willing to live near anyone who is a different color than me", and you have obviously passed it, well into pure racism. The individual doesn't matter, and it isn't even one race, you simply hate everyone who isn't exactly like you. I'm thankful you are not my neighbor.

I could give you an analogy, but I don't want to break Godwin's Law.

Re:Political Correctness? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630168)

You think your race is better than any other race.

you simply hate everyone who isn't exactly like you

You seem to be reading a whole lot into a situation that probably doesn't exist. A religious analogy would be those who think people are either evangelical Christians or judeo-christian tradition satanists and anywhere in between is not allowed, and the though of someone not even playing on that continuum is not permitted to be thought about.

Its possible, in fact normal, to not want to live in Mexico or not want to live in Somalia without hating Mexico or Somalia.

Re:Political Correctness? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630246)

It's normal not to want to live in Mexico because of the crime issues that plague large portions of the country, thanks to ineffectual government and poverty. It's racist not to want to live in Mexico because of the Mexicans, which the GP clearly stated was the case in his selection of housing.

Re:Political Correctness? (0)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630482)

Exactly what part of his statement:

I want "no/few fucking neighbors, and none who are poor, and none who don't look like me".

did you fail to understand? He obviously doesn't like poor people, or people who are not his race, not for any personal reason, but solely because they are different than he is. That is pretty much the de facto definition of bigotry.

Re:Political Correctness? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630368)

VOLUNTARY segregation is "the right of free association", and I'm all about me so I practice it when making the massive investment of a home. That's no time to bother with principles which are not to your advantage.

For those who can, the segregation is voluntary. Most live where they can. We could have chosen a "better" hood, but that would have been filled with you"relatively rich, white, voluntarily segregated people and quite frankly I'd rather the kid turns into a juvenile delinquent than into you.

Here we have a bit more relative poverty and a little more crime (not that I've seen any, and the city, where people from all around and all walks of life go to clubs and stuff is much more violent), but we have a hundred nationalities or so living here and we don't live in a fucking bubble shielding us from the real world.

Go choke on a cupcake.

Re:Political Correctness? (2)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630358)

I wish something like this would have existed when I chose my current house.

There was. It's called "why this house was cheaper than the other same sized ones a couple miles down". The market has accounted for crime and "ghetto-ness" of a neighborhood long before this or Redfin or Zillow or the Internet.

Re:Political Correctness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630542)

Well now its like

1. Make "mistake" in database marking area as a high crime neighborhood.
2. Buy house
3. Correct "mistake" and profit!! :D

Re:Political Correctness? (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630376)

Precisely how are those neighborhoods supposed to clean up if people are being constantly scared away by folks like MS? Seriously, it can take years past the point of the problems being cleaned up to where folks acknowledge that the problem has been solved.

The problem is that unless you're a LEO that kind of information isn't particularly helpful as you should be cautious in any neighborhood you're in. A map like that is likely to either have little effect or to push crime into other neighborhoods as people avoid the "bad" ones.

Re:Political Correctness? (4, Insightful)

xjerky (128399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630690)

"Precisely how are those neighborhoods supposed to clean up if people are being constantly scared away by folks like MS? "

It's not our job to bring money to businesses in Ghettos. Change comes from within.

Cyber-white flight (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629920)

If adoption were widespread, wouldn't automatically avoiding bad neighbourhoods simply be another instance of "white flight", denying neighbourhoods economic input that leads to further poverty and more violence?

Re:Cyber-white flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630050)

I really hate that statement, because your question implies that we have some sort of duty to give other people money in exchange for goods. Point of fact: we don't.

Re:Cyber-white flight (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630100)

You want goods with no money changing hands? I'm in!

Re:Cyber-white flight (-1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630180)

I really hate that statement, because your question implies that we have some sort of duty to give other people money in exchange for goods. Point of fact: we don't.

What we have is a legal requirement to not choose who we buy our goods from based on race or minority status of the owner/employees.

We have no duty or requirement whatsoever to enter a high-crime area to do business.

There are plenty of ways for neighborhoods to achieve "economic input".

Mostly by attracting wealthy individuals, entrepeneurs, who start online businesses or companies that don't just do local business.

Neighborhoods that have high crime rates or other issues are likely to attract none of these. Their best bet to do business is for people in the neighborhood to frequently leave their neighborhood to participate in business.

Neighborhoods in the US are not like self-sufficient city states where you need a passport to enter/exit. If the neighborhood is 'bad', you get your ass on a bus, get a job in another neighborhood, and commute.

Re:Cyber-white flight (4, Informative)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630318)

What we have is a legal requirement to not choose who we buy our goods from based on race or minority status of the owner/employees.

That's not true, you're allowed to buy your goods from whoever you choose, for any reason you choose. That is freedom of association.

Re:Cyber-white flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630088)

So, have you always been a racist or is it a new hobby?

Prior Art? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629934)

An Iphone app called Trapster goes beyond just speed traps to cover other sorts of police activity that may cause closed roads and delay. Could archives of this data set up similar "bad area" avoidances?

Another stupid patent (5, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629936)

Google maps already has a feature that allows you to avoid tolls or "by foot" versions.

Add info from stuff like this:
http://www.nwgangs.com/gang-territory-maps.html [nwgangs.com]
http://maps.google.com/maps/user?uid=200807321660978094818&hl=en&gl=us&ptab=2 [google.com]
And so where's the innovation?

I personally think patents are costing society more than the benefit they provide. Sure a few patents might be worthwhile, but when most of them are crap, what's the point? It's as stupid as throwing money at a game which provides worse odds than most casinos. A few wins don't make up for all the losses.

You want to reward and encourage _people_ for innovating? Award Prizes for Innovation instead. It's always easier to see if something was innovative and valid from hindsight than from an overworked patent examiner's POV. You could have different areas and different categories, some chosen by "randomly selected citizens", and some chosen by "experts in the field". A bit like the Hugo and Nebula awards. That way you get some balance.

Re:Another stupid patent (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629956)

Re:Another stupid patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630068)

I'm curious, what part of this map automatically adjusts the directions provided for walking from one location to another based on these points of interest? Also, what generated these points of interest? Were they manually entered by an individual to represent what is determined to be the gang territory? What is that based upon? What of the criminal activity that is not gang related? How does this alert any pedestrian to that activity?

If you consider this to be "prior art", you clearly didn't read even the summary. Developing routing algorithms to adjust based on public crime reports isn't conceptually similar to someone manually placing points of interest on a map in representing specific gang territories, especially when the latter has no impact on routing at all.

Re:Another stupid patent (3)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630338)

Developing routing algorithms to adjust based on public crime reports

If you understand routing algorithms you'd know that there's no big difference between avoiding X because it's blocked and avoiding Y because "it's in a bad neighbourhood" or "has a huge traffic jam" or "a crime just occurred" or whatever. Plenty of algorithms and even code written years ago.

So tell me again what innovation Microsoft came up with? Fooling patent examiners doesn't count.

Re:Another stupid patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630404)

The "innovation" is applying it to public crime data, which functions quite a bit differently from traffic/construction avoidance which is much more discrete in nature. Traffic/construction rerouting goes away when the event does, and your route only needs to avoid that one specific point.

Patents can build on other patents, you know. Just because Newton patented the light bulb didn't mean that Westinghouse couldn't patent a different construction for a light bulb, even though much of the work was the same and was cited as such. If it was so easy and obvious, why has no device or online mapping tool provided the functionality?

Re:Another stupid patent (1)

ixnaay (662250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630494)

Newton? You might want to check up on that.

Re:Another stupid patent (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630658)

The "innovation" is applying it to public crime data, which functions quite a bit differently from traffic/construction avoidance which is much more discrete in nature.

So tell me how's it actually going to be different when it comes to the algorithm? Have you never heard of "weighting"? Have you never seen Google maps provide multiple alternative routes from A to B? Go think how they might do that.

Have you never seen stuff in games navigate across different types of terrain through different types of obstacles?

why has no device or online mapping tool provided the functionality?

1) The difficulty is getting real-time or timely enough crime statistics. If you don't have good crime statistics you might as well fall-back to the gang territory and "bad neighbourhood" maps. Or not even bother in the first place.

There is no difficulty in this "innovation". The difficulty is in implementation and execution. There is no big difficulty in making a sandwich once bread is invented (the difficulty is getting the credit for inventing it ;) ). There's no difficulty in making a bullshit sandwich once sandwiches have been invented.

2) There may not actually be a big enough demand for it yet. This patent could just be to stop others from doing it if there turns out to be a demand for it.

Patents too often allow people to impede others who might be able to implement it better, or actually implement it ("real" patent trolls don't actually implement anything).

Re:Another stupid patent (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630402)

You want to reward and encourage _people_ for innovating? Award Prizes for Innovation instead. It's always easier to see if something was innovative and valid from hindsight than from an overworked patent examiner's POV.

Sure, but that's what prizes like the Nobel prize are for. Patents are not rewards to encourage people to innovate. Patents are time-limited monopolies grudgingly granted in exchange for innovators disclosing their innovation. They've already innovated by the time they apply for a patent - the distinction is whether they publish it, or whether they keep it as a trade secret. Patents drive innovation because, by encouraging disclosure, other innovators don't have to waste time re-inventing the same things over and over.

Re:Another stupid patent (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630476)

Unless they applied for this 10 years ago and it is just making it out of the patent office now, then yup there is oddles of prior art. My GPS (Magellan I think) has walking, cycling and bus mode for example. Score another win for the US patent office.

Exploitable (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629948)

If I were a mugger, I'd use it to locate 'good' neighborhoods, and start mugging people there. A device to find new fat hunting grounds. I'd love it.

Re:Exploitable (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630018)

The problem is the "good" neighborhoods are good because of local environmental factors, more or less, not just random distribution of muggers.

My neighborhood superficially would appear to be a great empty hunting ground based on violent crime stats. However, its across the street from the local PD and is the closest subdivision thus many of my neighbors are off-duty cops. A mugger literally wouldn't live very long around here...

On the "food source" side, my city is big enough that people lock their doors and suburban enough that everyone drives everywhere except for maybe schoolkids. So there is literally no one to mug in my neighborhood other than school kids and dog walkers... On the other hand, the "downtown" bar district is full of drunks with money every night, easy pickings.

Re:Exploitable (0)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630122)

Cell phone posting, so that's why my post was short. Basically you could use it to locate the 'fattest' neighborhoods furthest away from a PD. A bit of ingenuity, please: you're on slashdot.

Re:Exploitable (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630048)

But that's not what irrational humans really do. They go after people they know, in their own neighborhoods.

Re:Exploitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630058)

If I were a mugger, I'd use it to locate 'good' neighborhoods, and start mugging people there. A device to find new fat hunting grounds. I'd love it.

And avoid geographic profiling as well.

Re:Exploitable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630102)

The muggers already know where the good neighborhoods are - it's no fucking secret where the yuppies and rich people live.

The muggers don't live in the good neighborhoods because they can't afford them, and it's not practical to travel to them all the time to rob people. Further, the good neighborhoods generally have better policing, better visibility, and other attributes that make it hard for muggers to really take root there.

Re:Exploitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630208)

Lower crime neighborhoods are armed. Check out the NRA's Armed Citizen.

Re:Exploitable (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630334)

As a resident of a boring, low-crime suburb, I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that none of the upper-middle-class, professional-job-working, 100-lbs-overweight people in this suburb have ever shot a gun.

Re:Exploitable (2)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630336)

If you were a mugger (or breaking into homes) in my neighborhood, you'd get your ass shot. That's why good neighborhoods are good. We don't tolerate crime. We don't make excuses for the criminals. We report crime and testify in court when the time comes. We vote for leaders who care about the safety of the citizens.

It has nothing to do with color. There are people of nearly every race living in my neighborhood. The difference is that they're good people, not thugs.

Everybody knows what it takes to turn a bad neighborhood into a good neighborhood. Either do it or quit your bitching. You want the title - live with it.

Patent loophole (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38629968)

If TomTom or some other competing GPS device manufacturer wants to implement identical functionality without running afoul of the patent, they can simply use demographic data rather than crime data. Since blacks are at least seven times more likely to commit a violent crime and Hispanics three times more likely [colorofcrime.com] , it would be just as good to use neighborhood demographic data as a basis for plotting a safer route.

Of course, it would not be as politically correct to admit that race and crime have such a strong correlation. Perhaps a Chinese GPS manufacturer could capitalize on this and sell into the Western market. The Chinese don't give a rat's ass about PC!

Re:Patent loophole (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630086)

If TomTom or some other competing GPS device manufacturer wants to implement identical functionality without running afoul of the patent, they can simply use demographic data rather than crime data. Since blacks are at least seven times more likely to commit a violent crime and Hispanics three times more likely [colorofcrime.com] , it would be just as good to use neighborhood demographic data as a basis for plotting a safer route.

Of course, it would not be as politically correct to admit that race and crime have such a strong correlation. Perhaps a Chinese GPS manufacturer could capitalize on this and sell into the Western market. The Chinese don't give a rat's ass about PC!

Why not suggest using income data instead. That way you don't come off as a racist scumbag. Just sayin'.

Re:Patent loophole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630136)

Is it racist if it is completely and 100% correct? Or do you just prefer putting fingers in your ears and yelling 'I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!' like a little bratty schoolgirl?

Re:Patent loophole (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630234)

Why not suggest using income data instead. That way you don't come off as a racist scumbag. Just sayin'.

That strategy does not work, you end up avoiding mostly harmless low income areas, like university student areas and old folks homes where the income level almost by definition is nothing but SS checks.

Also both race and income are kind of meaningless in the office park neighborhood where I work, but crime rates DO vary heavily based on location (probably because one border is on the bar scene, and the other border is basically completely uninhabited industrial buildings)

Re:Patent loophole (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630406)

I was mugged by an old person you insensitive clod.

I can smell the lawsuits already (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629982)

So, imagine getting "on the list". Rightly so, or just by mistake. So I'm sure they will base it on crimerate etc... But still, Now Microsoft will be influencing housing prices etc.. and judging quality of life for you.. hahaha sry..

Re:I can smell the lawsuits already (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630074)

Hmm I'm thinking crime rate influencing real estate prices is not exactly new. If not, there's some great homes in Detroit I could buy for $1 and flip to you for $100K if you'd like.

google's autonomus driverless vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630002)

google's autonomus driverless vehicles may tread the path mentioned in this patend and m$ will ask money from those vehicles just for moving around.
as in they are paying money to m$ for android.

did someone already say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630040)

Oh, sh*t there goes the neighbourhood!

?

M

And soon... (0)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630094)

Neighbourhood named "Nigger Neighbourhood, don't cross if you'r white".
And that kind of stuff...

Maybe the patent (1)

TheTruthIs (2499862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630096)

Has been inspired by The Bonfire of the Vanities.

This patent can be extended. (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630108)

Too bad they didn't patent bad software detection.

taut it said BAD NETWORK NEIGHBORHOOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630130)

thinking, vuln patch??? !! hahaha , back to sipping the hard shit

Only As Good As The Data (3, Informative)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630152)

Good luck making that work. The government crime data that this feature will be using is usually out of date and highly massaged by police departments and officials with a stake in the crime rates. See, for example this NY Times article [nytimes.com] .

Re:Only As Good As The Data (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630416)

More than that, you don't have the granularity to make those sorts of decisions with any accuracy. Just because a neighborhood has a lot of crime doesn't mean that all points during the day and all parts of the neighborhood are equally likely to have violent crime. Around here the peak time in one of our bad neighborhoods is just after the bars close in the morning and the violence is mostly centered around the bars.

Likewise, lighting and landscaping or lack thereof make for places that are more easily used by muggers and various other types of criminals.

Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630182)

or they may have opened a fertile ground for discrimination lawsuits

How could not driving through an area be grounds for a lawsuit?

Re:Um... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630428)

Against MS not people driving. It's one thing to observe that a neighborhood has a disproportionate number of muggings and individually opt not to go there and quite another to publish that without any of the statistics for the use of other people.

how is a crime map with dots racist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630212)

Numbers are numbers.... who says high crime areas are only minorities?

And the people that scream this is racist? THEY are the ones assuming that minority neighborhoods will be tagged THEY are the ones who have that stereotype in their head.

But that in itself means they know that these neighborhoods are "bad". I live in a touristy area... I would NEVER send anyone through a bad neighborhood... you send them to the nice areas so they can appreciate the good parts of the city.

Unintended effects? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630244)

If most travelers stop taking their trips through "bad neighborhoods"; e.g. almost everyone starts avoiding so called bad neighborhoods, even the criminals, it's possible this will create more traffic and therefore more crime for so called "good neighborhoods"

Which as a result, become "less good". Also, if the pedestrian travelers who need GPS to navigate the city are seen as the ideal target/mark (they don't know the lay of the land), then that means criminals have incentive to pick new stomping grounds.

As they do so... more "good neighborhoods" turn into bad neighborhoods... so use of the device could be self-limiting. Before you know it, all neighborhoods are bad neighborhoods, due to routing many of the ideal/ vulnerable "targets" for crime through them.

Re:Unintended effects? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630426)

Crime rates in bad neighborhoods are based on the people there already, and what they're doing. Not the occasional traveler. This is why in turn deghettoification can happen too, when people buy up a whole pile of shitty places in an area and push those people out.

Completely useless. (1)

JudasPreist (2530344) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630328)

Yeah, the first thing I do when I'm in an unfamiliar town is start wandering around after I abandon my car. Really, I mean who wants to drive around in a car when you can really experience the unfamiliarity in person? The ONE good use for this would be for those new to an area and unable to afford vehicles that need to walk or bike around looking for jobs. Oh wait, they probably won't be able to afford a GPS or a smartphone capable enough for this technology. How about something useful? Like vandal/theft statistics on parked cars. I don't know about you, but if I'm in an unfamiliar area I'm always looking for a nice, well-lit parking area that I won't have to worry about a hit and run or some bored piece of crap with sharp scrap of metal. I'd like to really trick out my car but that would be like a neon sign advertising that I have an aftermarket stereo system. I've already had to teach a lesson to little teen bitches that took a picture of my car, 'scouting' for the thieves.

I've been working on some software that does this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630374)

based off the data at http://police.uk/

You know, I'm normally against quotas (-1, Troll)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630382)

...but the number of racist assholes posting to this thread makes me think it's time to require that people selling homes in neighbourhoods with a very high proportion of white people (say, more than 95%) be required to sell only to members of ethnic minorities.

Now, that may not be politically correct (in the real sense of the term - comments you can't make in public without people getting all huffy and blackballing you), but it's pretty much the only way we're going to get out of this "OMG! BLACK PEOPLE! LET'S NOT GO THERE!" rut.

Re:You know, I'm normally against quotas (1)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630460)

That is the most racist thing I have heard in a while. Racism is when you discriminate based on race. You would be doing exactly that... Just like so-called affirmative action... Both are racist concepts that have no place in a civil society.

Re:You know, I'm normally against quotas (1)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630474)

Also, this patent, and my behavior when choosing a route, have nothing to do with race. They are are based on crime statistics. I don't want to be mugged or shot by a white guy any more than by some other race.

Lawsuits are on the way (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630462)

Because this software is racist.

Re:Lawsuits are on the way (1)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630490)

Basing something on crime statistics is NOT racist. It is CRIMIST... Why do people jump to race when it comes to crime?

The map for Memphis is gonna look like a doughnut (1)

VIPERsssss (907375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630530)

donut?
Anyway, stay out of Memphis.

Sounds good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38630576)

Being disabled I like the idea. If I were to visit an unfamiliar neighborhood or city this would be of a big plus.

But like most severly disabled people, I don't visit anywhere. First, like I can afford it on disability income? Second, it's just too difficult to get around. So, on the other hand this sounds great but won't help me, perhaps others I hope.

A few possible problems (2)

dHagger (1192545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630640)

I can see a few possible problems with this.

1) Lag/delay in statistics. If the feature is abused as described in some of the posts above, an area considered safe can be unsafe for a while before the statistics catches up with reality. The opposite is also true; an area that has been "cleaned up" may be considered unsafe for a while.

2) Different types of violent crime. Not all violent crimes occur in the streets; domnestic violence is (at least where I live) considered a violent crime, and it is also a lot more common than unprovoked violence on the streets. At least that is what the police says - in the statistics they are bundled.

3) Seasonal / time of day differences. I live in a city that is flooded by tourists in the summer. Violent crimes increases significantly during those few months, and most of those crimes occur late evenings / nights when people at clubs/bars/pubs are drunk. Still, statistics for specific areas are compiled on a yearly basis.

4) In sparse areas, a single crime can have a huge impact in the statistics. Looking at statistics compiled "per capita", the area where I grew up had a 200% increase in violent crimes one year. It went from one case of domnestic violence to three - or 20/1000 per capita.

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