Google’s Controversial Waze App Gains Ability To Display Nearby AMBER Alerts

Traffic-crowdsourcing app Waze, which describes itself as being about “contributing to the common good out there on the road,” has a new feature that certainly meshes with its goals: AMBER Alerts. Starting today, Waze users will receive AMBER Alerts about local, missing children when alerts are sent by authorities.

Because people use Waze while driving, the company has to be careful about when (and how) it displays AMBER Alerts. The system Waze is setting in place at the outset makes sense: the AMBER alert will only appear once your car has been stopped for 10 seconds. You can tap the map to hide the AMBER Alert, but if you don’t, the alert will disappear as soon as you begin driving again.

Waze is bringing AMBER Alerts to its drivers

“Each AMBER alert will contain as much information as possible,” the company said in a blog post. “Alerts may contain a photo of the child as well as the model, make and license plate of a missing vehicle the child may be traveling in. Clicking ‘More Information’ will open a web browser where Wazers can obtain more information on the missing child.”
Certain police officers recently voiced concerns about how Waze may affect their safety. But including AMBER Alerts doesn’t strike me as an attempt to counter bad publicity. Alerting drivers is in keeping with Waze’s goal of contributing to the common good, and it’s a step that other apps have recently taken, including Facebook. Many mobile phones are also equipped to receive AMBER Alerts. Given that Waze is presenting the alerts in a way that doesn't distract drivers, it seems like a win for everyone.