A tale of two government services

Did your phone just tell us there are police ahead?

My wife asked me.

“Why yes, yes it did” I responded.

Last week, we did some travelling Toronto way during the nasty weather. Normally, I just use the GPS that is built-in with my car for map navigation but I wanted a little extra so I plugged our destination into Waze.

I had checked 511on.ca before heading out and the report was that the 401 was clear until London. The recommendation from St. Marys was to not leave home because apparently it was bad on the other side of the Forest City. My plan was to head east and, if it was in fact, too bad, get a hotel room in London. There are nice places to stay just off the highway.

So, why Waze? As I was checking out the highways to our destination on 511on, I noticed that Waze was flagged as “new” and so went down the rabbit hole for details. That seemed pretty progressive that the service was using the best of social media to promote safe travelling.

And off we went.

As noted above, I don’t normally use Waze. But, there was a real possibility of bad roads so I figured that it would be helpful to have them flagged for me. I originally looked for a 511on app because its maps are pretty awkward to navigate on a phone.

If you’ve ever watched Heavy Rescue 401, you know how bad things can be at times and all morning, teachers had been checking in on Twitter indicating cancelled buses and even closed schools. And, the 401 wasn’t accident free, the crowd sourced flagging of police presence let us know about the dangers and changes in speed ahead.

Personal commentary – there was to be something that could be done about the accidents through Chatham-Kent. Just saying…

Bottom line – we got to our destination without personal incident but did notice some problems that others had encountered. For us, it wasn’t a day to be avoiding speed traps but it was handy to have used both tools to plan for a safe trip. Who wouldn’t want this?

Apparently, New York police. I ended up reading this at some point. Then, I started to understand that there is another side to this. As noted in the story, the reports aren’t specific to DUI check points although comments could be added. It was a matter of flagging where the police were and some of the locations were check points indeed.

These are the things that make government a challenge. On one case, one government service tries to provide all of the best information necessary. In another case, too much information is interpreted as encouraging dangerous driving.

For me, it’s one of those situations where I can clearly see both sides of the argument. Personally, since I don’t drink and drive, I don’t worry about that part of the arguement – EXCEPT – I want my travels to be as safe as possible!

What are your thoughts?

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