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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Google wants technology to be ‘helpful’ as safety becomes real issue

American man was attacked after the maps app he was using took him along a dangerous route.

Google South Africa country director Alistair Mokoena has said the company wants its technology to be helpful to society.

This comes after an American tourist was attacked and robbed in Nyanga, Cape Town.

It’s alleged that the man used a map application on his iPhone to get to his rental accommodation in Simons Town. But he was directed through a township to get to his destination.

The man got off the plane, exchanged currency at Cape Town International Airport, rented a car, and ended up in Nyanga, where he was shot in the face and robbed.


On Tuesday, South Africa’s tourism sector signed an agreement with Google Africa to leverage the search giant’s technological expertise in promoting South Africa as a tourist destination and providing digital training support to those operating in the sector.

Mokoena told Cape Talk Google wanted to ensure that its technology is helpful.

“If Google’s mission is organising the world’s information and make it accessible and helpful, part of being helpful is helping people avert danger.

“But we take our lead from the authorities who say there is a specific route that goes through a specific area, can you please look into that. So, when it comes to route mapping and route recommendation, there is criteria we look at.

“What is the road surface like, is it tarred or not, lit or not, four-wheeler road or two-wheeler road,” Mokwena said.

ALSO READ: Google Maps weighs in on American tourist incident


Mokwena added that safety was becoming a “real issue”.

“We have been working with the engineering team to ensure that the routes that we do surface, are, if not the most direct, most convenient, or quickest, we need to think about is there a danger element and if the authorities deem there is and communicate it as such, we take the lead from there.”

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said: “In an era of digital transformation, collaboration between technology giants and government entities has the potential to reshape industries.”

Additional reporting by Devina Haripersad

ALSO READ: Google and Tourism Ministry ink deal to leverage IT giant’s technological expertise

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