Imagine being able to look at your mobile phone and see whether traffic is cruising along or standing still on the road up ahead.
The Israeli firm Waze has made this possible with a free application allowing you to hit the roads stress-free.
“The application is really geared towards daily driving and commuting,” Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze, told The Media Line. “It’s about finding your best way on your way to work.”
The application works by letting drivers see how traffic is moving based on information sent automatically by other users. Data sent from drivers’ smart phones is combined with GPS readings and updated in real time in a program resembling a Pac-Man style graphic.
Originally developed in Israel, where some 220,000 use it, the application is now available around the globe, with the quality of the service varying according to the number of users in any given region.
“Some [use it] in Saudi Arabia, there is a group in Dubai working with it and we have seen drivers in Iran pop up,” Bardin said. “So literally all over.”
The program generates maps of roads from automatic inputs from users as they drive. This allows the system to update itself more frequently than normal GPS systems which need to continually download maps to keep up to date.
“What I love about Waze is that is saves you from the traffic and warns you when there are police in the area,” Israeli university student Ma’ayan Hagi told The Media Line. “I have been using it for some six months and it can find out of the way places and roads that I think a normal GPS wouldn’t be able to find.”
“It has saved me many times from having to sit in traffic for hours,” she said. “Once I was driving to my mom’s place so I didn’t think I needed Waze but I ended up sitting in traffic that didn’t move for over an hour! I completely missed the family dinner and was just standing on the highway kicking myself for forgetting to turn on Waze.”
“It’s not always perfect,” she added. “Another time when I was up north Waze kept thinking I was in Jerusalem.”
While the application helps drivers, the information they provide helps the company as well.
“The core of what we do is about selling traffic and maps,” Bardin said, citing delivery companies as potential buyers of the information. “We are developing a data stack which includes a navigable map, real time traffic and user generated reports.”