Waze - Driver Generated Mapping Program
Waze is trying to change how people think and interact with their navigation device, by getting citizen mappers and traffic spotters out there to help generate an accurate view of the road network, traffic conditions and accidents. The Waze platform sits on your smartphone and anonymously sends information back about your location, speed, allowing you to "report" on your travels. With enough users, the platform can become highly accurate and allow for the most up to date information.
Waze announced that they are starting a public Alpha today and will open it up to a beta test later this year. The program is available only for the Android family of phones, and wil soon be available for the iPhone (now you're talking!). It's pretty ambitious to do all of this on a smartphone, but they have a history of success in Israel where they started.
"waze launched its first mobile application in Israel, where it has been downloaded by more than 80,000 commuters and is the fastest-growing navigation application in that market. Within less than a year the community created the entire navigable map from scratch, and real-time traffic information reached approximately 90 percent coverage and over 85 percent 'estimated time of arrival' accuracy. waze has tens of thousands of daily commuters in Israel, using it several times a day to receive optimal traffic-aware routing to their destination for free."
More at waze.com
Full Press Release after the jump.....
WAZE ANNOUNCES DRIVER-GENERATED LIVE MAP PLATFORM; LAUNCHES PRIVATE ALPHA FOR MOBILE APPLICATION
Application offers real-time road intelligence and answers the commuter question "Which way should I go today?"
Where 2.0, San Jose, Calif. -- May 19, 2009 -- waze, Inc., the first free provider of driver-generated maps and real-time road information, today unveiled a new platform for creating and maintaining live maps in the United States. Also at the Where 2.0 conference today, waze launched a private alpha program for its first mobile application, which harnesses driver-generated data to build navigable road maps and provide real-time information to commuters on the latest road conditions, traffic, street closures, speed traps and more. The application, already widely used in Israel, will open to the general public in the coming months.
"While a lot of information is available about road conditions, it doesn't really help us with our every-morning dilemma - what's really happening on the roads, how long will our commute take today, and which route is best right now?" said Noam Bardin, CEO of waze. "waze is a network of drivers who work together to save time - everyone contributes and everyone benefits. By aggregating the status of all connected wazers, such as GPS traces and active reporting of speed traps or road hazards, we can build and share back a real-time or 'live' map which reflects the current state of the roads, finds the best route and guides the waze members though it in their daily driving."
How it works
The waze application runs on users' smartphones, it automatically and anonymously sends back GPS points as they drive. This data is used to build and constantly update the road grid, driving directions, road changes, traffic flow, and more. Waze also uses aggregated driving speed data to determine traffic jams and other changes in road conditions. Drivers can report road problems and some map inaccuracies with one click on their mobile device; more extensive map editing is done via the waze website. The waze map platform is soon to open APIs to allow developers to build other features and applications that leverage the waze-generated collection of live map data.
History of Success
waze launched its first mobile application in Israel, where it has been downloaded by more than 80,000 commuters and is the fastest-growing navigation application in that market. Within less than a year the community created the entire navigable map from scratch, and real-time traffic information reached approximately 90 percent coverage and over 85 percent 'estimated time of arrival' accuracy. waze has tens of thousands of daily commuters in Israel, using it several times a day to receive optimal traffic-aware routing to their destination for free.
"The market for navigation technologies is quickly shifting to connected devices, led by the proliferation of GPS-enabled smartphones with always on broadband access," said Mark Fitzgerald of Strategy Analytics. "The traditional map making technologies are labor intensive thus expensive. Real-time maps used for connected device applications face price pressure to provide cost-effective navigation and traffic solutions. A user community-driven approach to map and road information can provide both the functionality and the free-to-consumer cost structure to serve as the map for the mobile generation, just as Wikipedia serves as the Encyclopedia for the Internet generation."
Mobile Application Features
waze's mobile application will include a set of features to help drivers make the right decision about which route to take, every time, including:
- "Live" street maps which will update with road closures or other road changes
- Real-time traffic - for highway and city streets - instantly communicated by other waze users who are actually on the road
- Scrolling traffic and road condition updates
- Driver-contributed information about speed traps, traffic, and other roadside hazards
- Ability to post information directly to Twitter and share real-time photos
To start using the service, drivers simply download the application to their mobile smartphone, activate it on their daily commute, and it anonymously sends and receives relevant, live map information around their particular location.
Waze has launched an alpha version of its mobile application in San Francisco, Chicago and Boston, and plans to open a public beta in the coming months. The application will be available on iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile devices.
Drivers who would like to sign up for the beta should visit www.waze.com and provide their handset and contact information. waze will notify users as the application becomes available on their device and in their area.
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Posted by Scott Martin at May 19, 2009 9:05 AM