While there’s a lot of information out there about road conditions, it doesn’t always expand on what we already know. The same commuter traffic clogs up the same roads every day, and by the time an accident report comes in, the affected route is already jammed.
So the waze developers came up with the first live driving map, constantly updated in real-time by drivers, to create an integrated dynamic map that includes the kind of information drivers need to know in real-time, such as the beginning of a traffic build-up, accidents, malfunctioning traffic lights, weather hazards, speed traps or available parking.
Officially launched in Israel in 2006, the waze prototype – called Freemap – was built from scratch by community members. Now released in the US, Waze uses the US Census Bureau’s Tiger maps and auto-corrects them through data updates and validations received from the waze community.
waze pings each car at intervals of between thirty seconds and three minutes to determine its location and relative speed. Then the waze server digests and sorts new traffic data or map updates and dispatches it to other drivers within minutes.
Drivers can also actively report map problems and edit the map from the waze client.
Because the map content is driver-generated, waze is completely free for users.
Dash Navigation, with its crowd-sourced traffic data, seems to be Waze’s only real competition, although Dash carries a price tag.
waze is now available as a free download on the Android Market website, and versions are in the pipeline for Windows Mobile (around end-August), iPhone (late-August / early-September), and Nokia / Symbian (early-September). Support for BlackBerry devices is still in the early stages of development.