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Stuck in traffic? Google can map faster route

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Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 11:32 pm | Updated: 7:58 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

Finding the fastest way around town just got a whole lot easier.

Internet giant Google enveloped Killeen into an innovative traffic mapping application, which uses an Orwellian information gathering technology called “crowdsourcing.”

The technology, released Friday in more than 130 mid-sized cities in the U.S. and South America, integrates data from thousands of users’ cellphones as they drive city streets and highways to show real-time traffic congestion on the Google Maps page.

Although the product may seem like a creature out of “1984,” Killeen users seem to welcome the service, despite the potential breach of privacy.

Cissy Aberg, who used her iPad Wednesday at a Starbucks in Killeen, said she doesn’t mind giving away her information because she believes it is a necessary consequence of using the free services.

“I think it is a give-and-take sort of thing,” Aberg said. “If you want access to things, you have to give up some of that privacy.”

Aberg said her only fear was that her information would result in a flood of advertisements to her email.

Google maintains it has taken steps to keep users’ information anonymous, even disguising the data so that vehicles cannot be tracked, according to a news release.

Before Google accesses the information, users must click “My Location” on the Google Maps application of their Android or other global positioning system-enabled phones, which includes details about the information-sharing process, Google spokesperson Deanna Yick said.

“I think it is important for people to be cautious with information sharing,” Killeen resident Linsey Freeman said. “A lot of people unwittingly give up info without reading everything that goes along with it.”

The iPhone Maps application does not support Google crowdsourcing and users do not have to participate in the service in order to use it.

“We are really excited to be able to share this feature with more people around the world who might find it useful,” Yick said.

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