“Waze was developed to alert and route drivers around slow-moving traffic, road hazards or accidents,” says Uri Levine, the co-founder and President of Waze. “In doing so, drivers benefit from time saving as well as less spend on fuel and reduced stress levels linked to driving in heavy traffic.”
“Waze uses existing technology to overcome the debilitating traffic problems that many people face on a daily basis,” says Charles Tasker, Managing Director of MiX Telematics (International). “Also, the beauty of Waze, besides the fact that it’s free, is that the more people use it, the more the community benefits from the data collected and shared.”
Wazers can also create or join groups with friends, colleagues and/or drivers that share similar routes. This enables users to communicate directly with the members of that group to inform them about things like accidents, road conditions or closures that are specific to their particular route. For safety purposes though, typing is disabled while driving and users are advised to only use Waze in conjunction with a hands-free car kit.
Gamers will also appreciate the “geo-gaming” aspect of the Waze app where users can gain points for activities such as reporting traffic information, validating roads and collecting drive-through “candies” that are randomly scattered throughout the map.
Ultimately these points count in the user’s favour if he or she applies to become an area manager. On applying to become an area manager, a user’s status is evaluated and if they’re granted permission they are then able to process pending road deletions and update requests from other users on the map in their chosen area.
Much like the Wikipedia model, the Waze community ensures that the data users input is legitimate and that any incorrect map data entered is corrected in order to improve everyone’s driving experience.
The global success of Waze has seen adoption figures grow from five million users in July 2010, to 12 million users in the past six months. To date, Waze has over 30 000 early adopters in South Africa, but if the global figures are anything to go by, this figure is set to increase over the course of the year.
The involvement of MiX Telematics in bringing Waze to South Africa is highly valuable as local users get a head-start in the form of a base road grid across South Africa. This is made possible by the injection of MiX Telematics’ existing positional data into the Waze app, thus ensuring all the major roads in SA are covered, though Wazers will still be able to map lesser-known roads as they drive them.
Waze is freely available on the Apple AppStore, the Android Market Place, the Nokia Ovi Store, BlackBerry's App World and Windows Market. Waze South Africa can be found on Twitter (@WazeSA) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/WazeSA). The only cost to users is the data that the app consumes and as such, users are encouraged to use the app in conjunction with a mobile data package.