How Waze uses crowdsourcing for better traffic data
Navigating through the maze of traffic congestion is one of life's biggest headaches. SmartPlanet visits Silicon Valley startup Waze to hear how its app enables drivers to alert one another of road conditions by sharing real-time traffic information.
>> Sumi Das: For drivers, navigating through the maze of traffic congestion is one of life's biggest headaches. And today, there are a slew of options to help you, whether it's Google Maps or your in-car system. And then there is this small startup in Silicon Valley known as Waze.
>> Noam Bardin: So you manually run--
>> Sumi Das: Noam Bardin is the CEO of the company that's designed an app where drivers alert one another of road conditions-- Female: Heavy traffic reported ahead.
>> Sumi Das: --by sharing real time traffic information.
>> Noam Bardin: It's about taking information off your phone, knowing where you are, how fast you're traveling, knowing where everyone else from the community is as at that moment, how fast they're traveling. Bring all that information together to actually understand where the traffic is, where are the open roads, and use that to basically route everyone around.
>> Sumi Das: For example, say you want to drive to San Francisco's Academy of Sciences Museum from Palo Alto. Get into your car and turn the app on. It will then tell you the best route, sounds like most map apps out there, right? But what makes the app stand out? Isn't the turn-by-turn navigation?
>> Female: Take a right--
>> Sumi Das: It's the community helping you along the way.
>> Di-Ann Eisnor: You have all of these colorful creatures on the map. Those creatures are actually other people that are using the application right now.
>> Sumi Das: Di-Ann Eisnor is the VP of Platform and Partnerships at Waze.
>> Di-Ann Eisnor: What we're doing is all of those people, they just turn it on and drive. And then we are collecting the GPS traces and time tamps and turning that into real time traffic that everyone else in the network can get. Because its navigation and traffic, you go along your route and if we find something better, we'll give you an opportunity to route around the incident.
>> Sumi Das: The technology also makes it possible for users to report and avoid some of the annoyances of daily driving. Noise Whether it's an accident, road construction, or a police officer ready to nab you.
>> Di-Ann Eisnor: What we find is that the police don't mind. We find that they don't like if people are marking for example, DUI checkpoints 'cause we don't allow people to do, but they don't mind if people are just putting where there are police because they put them out there to get people to slow down.
>> Sumi Das: Since the app launched in 2009, more than 11 million users have signed up for Waze.
>> Female: Now, we can tell you exactly-- Simultaneous Talking
>> Sumi Das: The company is also moving its platform to other areas like local TV news. They recently partnered with TV stations to have Waze maps appear during their daily news casts. And while the tiny startup has some large rivals like Google, Bardin says it's their community that gives them a leg up on the competition.
>> Noam Bardin: You need local people who live locally who understand what's going on in their town. And that's something that's very difficult to buy.
>> Female: Get ready to turn left.
>> Sumi Das: For SmartPlanet, I'm Sumi Das.