Traffic congestion is a pain in the you-know-what. You are already late for work and then you run into a traffic jam only to sit and stare at the beater in front of you. You didn’t even have time to grab a cup-o-joe before you left and was banking on the stale coffee at work. Instead, you feel your blood pressure rising as you watch the drivers around you happily sippping their mochas while sitting in the same traffic you are.
There MUST be a better way! And there is. Enter Waze, “real-time maps and traffic information based on the wisdom of the crowd.”
“The wisdom of the crowd?” you ask. Yes, it seems that those other drivers sipping their mochas are also carrying smart-phones that run the free Waze app. These happy sippers have already reported to the Waze server traffic congestion on the freeway between your house and work.
If you had it too, you would have known that there is a major traffic jam and Waze would have routed you to work a different, more convenient route given live traffic updates. Did I mention it is free and works with Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Symbian?
Here is what Waze can do for you:
1) Report slowing and congestion that typically doesn’t make it to your local news’ traffic reports.
2) Are you Speedy Gonzales? Using Waze, drivers can alert other drivers to speed traps.
3) Automatic routing around congestion, accidents, etc. Waze will calculate a route that gets you where you need to go.
4) much, much more
To check out some more information on Waze, visit their YouTube channel for tutorials, webinars, and demos.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been driving around with Waze on my Motorola Droid. My impression: Waze has huge potential, but it has yet to go mainstream. While I love the features, the automatic, dynamic routing, the cute little bubble icon on wheels, and munching roads like I was pac-man, I have yet to reap the full benefits of the service because I am one of a very few people in my area that use it. Santa Barbara is a pretty small town, but clearly this service will shine in metropoltian areas like Los Angeles and New York once the community builds.
What fascinates me most about this wonderful service is that it finally gets close to solving one of the biggest pet peaves in regards to traffic reports, congestion. It seems the traffice reporters only tend to report accidents, not slowing or minor hazards. While roads look clear according to their reports, the reality is they are not. Hence a Waze user can warn others faster than it can make it to the traffic reporter.
Sounds like Twitter you say? Yes, it does, social media traffic reporting is the wave of the future. Just like Twitter, Waze has the potential to build an enormous community, save us time and help us all save the environment by not idling our cars stuck in a traffic jam. That last point, saving the environment is a huge one… bigger than community based traffic.
This is huge people, let’s get together and make it even bigger!