waze gives real-time traffic data providers some healthy competition


While there seems to be a lot of information out there about road conditions, it doesn't always expand on what we already know.

We know where the traffic is – it's there every day. We know a couple of alternative routes – we've used them before. And by the time an accident report comes through, it's too late; the traffic is already backed up.

So the waze guys decided to develop 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.

The waze prototype – called Freemap – was officially launched in Israel in 2006. Two years later, waze was established.

In Israel, the map was built from scratch bycommunity members. In the US, in order to accelerate the process, Waze uses the US Census Bureau's Tiger maps and auto-corrects them through the data updates and validations received from the waze community.

waze works by pinging each car at intervals of thirty seconds to three minutes, to determine its location and relative speed. 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.

The map displays icons representing cars, road speeds, and alerts about police, construction or accidents.

Because the map and all of its 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 the following versions are in the pipeline:

  • Windows Mobile – around end-August, waze will support touch screen devices such as the Touch Pro and Pro2 (Fortress), Diamond2 and the Omnia. A qwerty version for phones such as the Snap, Jack and others will follow.
  • Phone – the waze version for iPhone will be available from the App Store by late-August / early-September, and supported on both 3G and 3Gs devices
  • Nokia / Symbian – waze will support both touch (5800 / N97) and non-touch (E71) phones by early-September.
  • BlackBerry – support for BlackBerry devices (touch and keyboard) is still in the early stages of development.

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