“Watch out! Accident ahead!” I just turned on Waze, the crowd-sourcing / navigation traffic app and I instantly found out what cause of a backup on a local road. Not a bad way to revisit the app that I first reviewed just over two years ago. The app has cleared two major hurdles: critical user mass and accuracy.
As a Google Maps user for navigation, it’s nice to leverage the real-time knowledge of nearby drivers ahead of me. Turn on the Waze app and you, for the most part, anonymously “passively contribute traffic and other road data … to provide other Waze drivers with the most optimal route to their destination, including live traffic information.”
Online communities require active members to keep growing. Driving in the Northeast U.S. corridor shows Waze now has strong adoption – and not just in the Boston and New York areas, but in small towns as well. Now claiming 30-million users, local roads now regularly have traffic reports with details about road obstacles, accidents and traffic.
Nice features include hands-free reporting. Just wave your hand over your mobile device and you can report an issue. It smartly still doesn’t let you type when the car is in motion. Backups have three levels of reporting which helps in accuracy. In my area, local Dunkin Donuts coffee shops show up on the map as I travel along with several other stores (often with offers done in a non-obtrusive way).
One issue: near my home Waze wants to take me into a shopping plaza parking lot to cut time. Fortunately, the system can be taught and map corrections are easy to report. My wish list includes better Bluetooth and address book integration – but what they’ve added and the community uses makes it worth the download.