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16 May 2013

Waze: An app that solves traffic problems via social networking

Words by Leslie Sy
 
waze main
Traffic jams are a daily reality for anyone who drives around Metro Manila. Day or night. And it only gets worse even if it rains ever so slightly. With today's technology and internet connectivity, there should be some way of knowing which roads are free and which ones are to avoid altogether in real time, right?
 
There are those like MMDA's Traffic Navigator that does well to inform its users of the traffic condition on major roads in the Metro. But what about the thousands of kilometers that are not covered by the MMDA's system? Fortunately there is a solution and it's an app called Waze - available for both iOS and Android devices. Best part is, it's free.
 
waze mapwaze navigation
 
Waze is all about individual drivers contributing to the common good of all other road users, and hopefully, improve everyone's daily driving experience. By having all drivers connected together (online of course), it could help others avoid heavy traffic, a hidden traffic police trap, and others situations.
 
Initially named “FreeMap,” the app was developed back in 2006 by Ehud Shabtai - a software engineer with a degree in Philosophy and Computer Science from the Tel Aviv University. It was first released in Israel where it was very well-received by the local community of drivers there. So two years later, with help from other entrepreneurs, Waze was officially launched on a global scale.
 
So what does WAZE do exactly? The app passively collects traffic information with the device's GPS (as long as you are running the app) as you drive. This information is then relayed back to Waze's servers online (it helps to have an unlimited data plan), which they use to rate the traffic level on roads with pinpoint accuracy. It displays this info on screen via color-coded streets according to traffic conditions (moderate in yellow; heavy in orange; and stand-still in red). But it gets even more interesting.
 
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Waze also allows users to contribute other road info such as location of car accidents, road works, police traps, or directly report traffic conditions at their current location. This gives other users in the area a heads-up. Cool, right?
 
We also gave Waze's GPS feature a real world test. Generally, it works like any standard GPS navigation device, but only better. Unlike regular GPS devices, Waze has the advantage of getting up-to-the-minute data on traffic conditions and other bits of info contributed by other users. That way, it can give you the option of either taking the suggested route or selecting a detour to avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam. And even if we got caught in a gridlock, we still have the minor consolation of being able to send out a traffic report to other Waze users to let them know about my demise. We can even chat online with other Waze users that appear on the map with us.
 
waze chatwaze score
 
Just like a game, Waze also makes the experience a bit more interesting by letting users earn points when they contribute. These points can later be used to customize the onscreen avatar in different ways.
 
With Waze, we arrived at our destination with a positive feeling that the drive through the Metro was not only well-guided, but that we were also able to help other Waze users like us. It's definitely a great tool to help anyone navigate the Metro, avoiding traffic jams and other driving hazards, with the help of online social networking. Best of all, this app is available free of charge. We suggest you download it from www.waze.com and give it a try.