Waze: IoT enabler and social engineer?
During Waze’s first year actively engaging this region, the community-based, crowdsourced traffic and navigation app has partnered with Malaysia’s Selangor and Indonesia’s Jakarta as part of their Connected Citizens Community programme.
Waze’s APAC lead and Global Strategic Partnerships Manager, Mona Weng also shared that in just a couple of months, these kinds of partnerships in Asia would have increased by ten more.
“Transportation agencies, government entities that touch transportation and emergency response services, or are involved in smart cities initiatives… we connect with them and connect them to each other so that they can share best practices,” she said.
There are three main objectives to this programme according to Weng. “We want to integrate data into traffic, open up communication channels between governments and citizens and partner with partners to make smarter transportation decisions.”
The Connected Citizens Community currently has 250 partners around the world.
There is more to the app that sits on your smartphone, giving you the best road routes to reach your destination. Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013, has grown through to the years to now having enough data to make recommendations on best times to start the journey home to ‘kampungs’ during festive seasons.
In one pilot programme in Europe, Waze successfully reduced driving time by 19-percent via license-based routing and regulating the traffic flow and traffic routing of cars whose license plates ended with odd numbers or even numbers.
For example, even numbers are directed to their destinations through one route, while odd numbers are sent to another route.
Being the navigation app of choice for 80 million monthly active users who spend 402 minutes per month on Waze, the traffic app is in the best position to help ease traffic congestions, but Weng said, “We want to look beyond whether there are traffic jams or not.”
City-wide, nation-wide, Internet of Things
From a simple vision to “save five minutes for every driver, every day,” Waze sees further opportunity to expand their use case.
They see opportunity for the app to help drivers plan out their routes and schedules, and also alert drivers of fuel price changes, for example.
In the bigger scheme of things, like a city for example, Waze actually allows two-way interaction between the driver and Waze, and users could feedback about roads that may need repairs, for instance.
Connected Citizens Community partners have access to this information feed that it contributed to by users, and will be able to act upon the information, if they choose to do so.
In essence, every Waze user on the road, can become a sensor and be part of an Internet of Things (IoT) network. If implemented well with the right partners, with user privacy being considered and with safety measures put in place, Waze could effect real positive change for cities and communities.