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  • Waze - Crowdsourcing Traffic with your Phone
    We've been checking out Waze a few days now, and while it's still in infancy stages - its a promising and interesting tech. In a nutshell, "Waze is the first free turn by turn GPS app that uses crowd sourcing to detect real time traffic conditions. Users can also communicate information about whats happening on the road (police, accidents, construction, cheap gas etc) straight from their phones."

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    The idea behind Waze is simple - everybody these days has their phone on them, why not use it to grab traffic data? Waze isn't the first folks to think the general concept up - Google has been displaying live traffic from highway authorities for a couple years now, and just recently (as in, August 25th 2009 it was announced) started using data from GPS enabled devices their Maps application is on. And Waze has some words to say about Google's implementation:
    Wazers are helping build our service from the ground up, by editing the map, reporting events, adding pictures and text, sharing their GPS points, validating traffic, testing new releases, giving us feedback, helping each other on the forum and a variety of other community actions. With this vibrant community, we aim to build a better service than just colors on a display map.
    And they're right. Waze is an innovation in traffic and mapping in general. With the continuing penetration of GPS into cellular devices, web 2.0 software, faster and more reliable data networks for phones, and overall more powerful devices, something like Waze was bound to happen. Think Wikipedia and Google Maps combined with Facebook. I have at least a dozen stories of me driving around in my car using the GPS (map disc comes with the car when you buy it) and running into roads that don't exist, or having to turn onto roads that aren't even on the map. Waze solves that with its map editing feature. You simply press "Record new roads," then drive on the road while you're recording, and press stop when done.

    The major issue at the moment is pure volume. Their Live Map is a little bleak. When I check "reports" in Waze for recent reports like traffic jams and police, the closest occurrence to me (I'm in Tampa these days) is 830 miles away. Their demo on the waze site even starts with a slide saying "Remember that waze is 100% user-generated and our community has just begun to build in the US, so features in this demo might appear more developed than they actually are." If a service like Waze could get a huge market penetration (Google Maps comes on your phone when you buy it, YouTube has all sorts of devices which allow it to be directly uploaded to - why not add something like Waze to the mix?), traffic reporting could be an entirely new situation.

    A second major issue is backgrounding - right now to track (or "waze" as they coin the verb) your routes, etc, you have to have the iPhone (or MyTouch/G1 - they've got an Android app out as well) on and running. A mount for your windshield is great for this, plugged into a cigarette adapter. If the iPhone could background applications, you could have Waze always on recording new info, etc (assuming you want to share it) - and build up a community much faster.

    Either way, it's an interesting concept, and now seems like a great time for it to come to market.

    Here's hoping it grows.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Waze - Crowdsourcing Traffic with your Phone started by Kyle Matthews View original post
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. jdys_1991's Avatar
      jdys_1991 -
      lol want to see this actually working here in the UK. Maybe in a few months time.
    1. mtwiford's Avatar
      mtwiford -
      I doubt everyone that you know has an iphone, let alone are they going to drive around with this app open all of the time. CoPilot is supposed to be working on a live traffic plugin for their GPS software, I think that one will be more useful. I wish that navigon would do it though
    1. vedavis's Avatar
      vedavis -
      That's a helluva example of national data aggregation, in real time, too ... hope it works for them.
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      I really am interested in seeing this grow and learning more about the infrastructures implementation...
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      It could be good if more people were using it. The nearest report to me is 508 miles away
    1. jdys_1991's Avatar
      jdys_1991 -
      lol xD
    1. billchase2's Avatar
      billchase2 -
      Doesn't seem to be working well for me yet either. I'll keep an eye on it.
    1. jayteez's Avatar
      jayteez -
      just what we need, idiots roaming the streets updating traffic on their phones not paying attention to the road. sign me up!
    1. FoneWeasel's Avatar
      FoneWeasel -
      Running it in the background as poetic_folly described would be an issue as the user would have to remember to stop recording when they exited their car so they weren't recording a road when they say, walked through the city park or sports stadium.

      Are the user added maps validated in any way or could I just add a 'road' while biking on the local hiking train and screw up everyone's routing in the future?
    1. dfiedler's Avatar
      dfiedler -
      Just a note to say that in Israel this Waze is a reality and for the iphone google maps is worthless but Waze works.
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      Sounds like a very cool concept
    1. dunlapface's Avatar
      dunlapface -
      LOL how do I get it to work in English?
    1. PainBlade's Avatar
      PainBlade -
      Honestly this looks like an opportunity for theft. Innocent drivers releasing detailed information and pictures on their exact location, giving thieves realtime data on where that exact phone is. It's like an easter egg hunt for criminals.
    1. FTBoomer's Avatar
      FTBoomer -
      I too am in Tampa and have been using Waze for a few months now. Also been beta testing the next iPhone version (submitted to app store). Very good voice directions (no TTS yet). Best part IT'S FREE!!
    1. TheArthurShock's Avatar
      TheArthurShock -
      this looks like it could be a really good app.

      : )
    1. n00neimp0rtant's Avatar
      n00neimp0rtant -
      I see an opportunities for the internet trolls of 4chan to mess up the entire road infrastructure on the site...
    1. FTBoomer's Avatar
      FTBoomer -
      Quote Originally Posted by IndianCheese View Post
      I see an opportunities for the internet trolls of 4chan to mess up the entire road infrastructure on the site...
      They can try but as soon as someone drives over the road with Waze activated, the system will trace the correct GPS points and correct the route.
    1. ashidar's Avatar
      ashidar -
      you know what would make this great? If we can get real time updates on road conditions for going skiing. Last year, there were many days when I wanted to go skiing, but wasn't sure if the roads were suitable for 2 wheel drive. There was no where I could go to find out! Now if people who go up the mountain on those days could send updates this would be awesome!
    1. hughjaas's Avatar
      hughjaas -
      It's a great concept but I think if and when this gets popular- they will be getting a lot of dishonest people (believe it or not) posting false data just to try to break the system. Once regular users find out the data is unreliable, they will stop using it.
    1. A_DuB187's Avatar
      A_DuB187 -
      This is an interesting app and you just can't beat free.