In a significant move, Google has decided to eliminate a route to Nyanga, one of South Africa’s most violent townships, from its navigation platform, Google Maps. This decision comes in the wake of several dangerous incidents involving tourists who were directed to Nyanga as the shortest route to their destinations.
Incidents Prompting the Change
Among those affected was an American tourist, Walter Fischel, who was shot in the face and robbed, and a British surgeon who was tragically killed in August when they were inadvertently re-routed into the township due to road closures. These life-threatening situations highlighted the need for safer navigation systems and triggered Google’s decision to revisit its route recommendations.
Google’s Response and Future Plans
Responding to these incidents, Google is working in collaboration with the South African government and local authorities to understand crime hotspots. The tech giant plans to incorporate new security alerts in Google Maps to help users navigate safely. The partnership also involves digital training for tourism stakeholders and data sharing to provide an overview of tourism trends.
Impact on South African Tourism
The decision to remove potentially dangerous routes from Google Maps is seen as a part of a broader effort to boost South African tourism. South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, co-signed the collaboration with the head of Google South Africa, Alistair Mokoena, with the objective of enhancing the safety and experience of local and international tourists. The move is expected to significantly increase the confidence of travelers relying on navigation systems like Google Maps while exploring South Africa.