The Waze Craze
Commuters usually know a few different ways to get to their desired destinations. There’s the everyday route, the scenic route and the back route but they are always faced with the question of which way is the best at this exact moment. That’s where the mobile app Waze comes in to play – the world’s largest crowdsourced GPS based traffic and navigation app. With over a million users in some countries, Waze connects users to create a real time traffic navigation community. It can be used for avoiding traffic jams, accidents, police speed traps, road blockages, even the cheapest nearby fuel! They call their community of users “Wazers” and add some fun to their daily commutes with status rankings within the community that are dependent on how much you use the app. Waze also offers limited time celebrity navigation voices to guide you from point A to B – imagine hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice saying “Hasta La Vista, Baby” at the end of your journey. They have even added a social side to the app with the ability to see nearby friends on the map as well as sharing your drive to see when everyone else is arriving to your destination.
How does it Work?
In order to provide the real time data available to drivers in the Waze community, the app uses crowdsourcing which in this case is a continuous stream of data provided by it’s users. By having the app open on their phone, users are passively providing Waze with information about their daily drive such as the average speed they are travelling at, the ability to check for errors, improve road layout and learn road and turn directions. If desired, the users can take on a more active role by sharing information on traffic updates, ride programs, weather conditions etc. Waze then collects and analyzes the data in real time to provide users with the optimal route to their destination given any hiccups along the way. In order for the app to provide you with the fastest or shortest route it needs to collect data on all other possible routes to the same location; hence why the app should be open during every expedition. This way when someone decides to take a certain route, the data for it will already be in the Waze “network” and the system can suggest the optimal route for the driver.
Not a Hit with Everyone
This app may seem like a godsend to many but to some it carries a more negative affect than positive. Take for example the residents of a quiet residential street in Takoma Park, Maryland – because of this app, their street was bombarded with an increase of over several hundred cars per hour all due to a re-routing suggestion to avoid construction. A resident by the name of Timothy Connor had told the newspaper that it had “become a nightmare, I could see them looking down at their phones. We had traffic jams, people were honking. It was pretty harrowing”.
The app seems to be creating some controversy with the law as well. Many police officers are against it because of the ability for users to report the location of speed traps and officers themselves. Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police says that disclosing the locations of these police speed traps “puts us at risk, puts the public at risk, because it’s going to cause more deadly encounters between law enforcement and suspects.” Some officers also believe that Waze could be used by criminals to target police officers. Of course this is only the opinion of some police officers, others don’t believe the app has any impact because police traps are already visible and in plain sight. Many also believe that people will drive more cautiously if they are aware that there is a police program nearby.
Lessons for Others
Waze is a prime example of how crowdsourcing over social media can be used to solve a problem and promote efficiency. Everyone who is a part of the Waze community is working together and engaged to reach the common goal of getting to their destinations quicker. The number of users is growing and unlimited only making the app stronger and more reliable for all thanks to the constant flood of real time data made available by drivers. Although this app has proven itself to be extremely helpful to many people on a daily basis, it does have its set backs such as creating traffic in otherwise quiet areas, causing some controversy with the law and encouraging people to be using a mobile device while driving.
Industry: Mobile App
Name of Organization Contact: Noam Bardin, CEO
Authored by: Lauren Harburn
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Parr, B. (2009, May 18). Waze Uses Crowdsourcing to Bring You Real-Time Traffic Info. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2009/05/18/waze/#VEG2Kc14DqqW
Smith, D. (2015, February 12). Police officers in Miami are intentionally trying to ruin Google’s traffic crowdsourcing app – here’s why. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/police-officers-vs-waze-google-traffic-crowdsourcing-app-2015-2
Vaas, L. (2016, June 07). Waze to go: Residents fight off crowdsourced traffic… for a while. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2016/06/07/waze-to-go-residents-fight-off-crowdsourced-traffic-for-a-while/