Waze – Crowdsourced Navigation.
Posted by Todd E. Grady
Most smartphones have a built-in map or navigation app and most of them work quite well. Some will provide traffic information and show the locations of gas stations, restaurants and other roadside points of interest. A mobile app named Waze adds crowdsourced information in an attempt to make your commute faster and safer.
On its own, Waze is a great navigation app, but that’s not what makes it cool. The cool comes from the crowdsourced information! By leaving the app running (actively navigating or not) you’ll receive alerts on traffic conditions, accidents, construction and even patrolling public service employees. The alerts are generated based on information entered by other users as they drive ahead of you. You can also alert other drivers to road conditions.
The app can also help you find the cheapest gas in the area by using crowdsourced information.
I know what you’re saying. “Enter alerts as they drive, isn’t that dangerous?” In the strictest terms, taking your focus off of the road for any amount of time is dangerous, but Waze makes the process as simple as operating your car’s radio. It takes a total of 3 taps on the screen to enter an alert for a traffic accident. You can enter more data on your alerts, but the app disables the ability to type if you’re in motion. You can also confirm alerts entered by others with a single tap.
The app also gathers information passively as long as it’s open. It monitors your route and the speed you’re travelling together with the data entered by users to draw a bigger picture of road conditions.
Like any app that uses crowdsourced information, it’s only as good as the information that’s put into it. The more people using the app, the more data that’s available. It’s also susceptible to pranksters or other invalid input, thus the inclusion of the ability to confirm other’s entries.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Waze is free!
Download Waze and try it out for a few days on your commute. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the app before you start rolling. Just leave it running for your first couple of trips and see how you like it. If you feel like it’s something of benefit to you, then start contributing by adding your own alerts!
[Note: I’ve only tested on an Android phone.]