Saturday, May 23, 2009

Waze -- the future of GPS

A significant portion of the GPS market is aimed at day-to-day driving. An Israeli start-up company, Waze, is collecting real-time traffic and driving conditions data from its users. This appears to be the most useful of all of the traffic and mapping systems yet devised.

The service is presently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Boston in the U.S. The Waze system is currently running on 80,000 smart phones in Israel. Quoting a news article on Cnet, "The service allows users to report accidents, speed traps, cops by the side of the road, and other traffic-related items. What's cool is that these items fade automatically over time, and there's also the possibility for the system to ping a driver as he or she passes a previously reported incident to see if it's still there."

CEO Noam Bardin is quoted as saying, "that in Israel, Waze doesn't even use commonly available street maps as its base layer of data. Instead, it tracks users (with their permission), and builds maps from those traces. Then it asks users to name the roads." Cnet.

I have had GPS on my iPhone for about a year now and we have used it extensively, not only to locate addresses and get directions, but to locate restaurants, stores and other businesses. It is also useful for planning freeway exits and deciding on routes. Recently while driving in northern Arizona near Kingman, we needed to stop for dinner, using an App on the iPhone we found a Subway restaurant right on the freeway at the next exit. Historically, we would have just followed signs or driven off the freeway and looked for possibilities. We have spent quite a bit of time wandering around shopping centers trying to locate a suitable restaurant or other business. The mapping functions, plus the business locating functions, plus the real-time GPS location function add up to a really helpful tool.

Adding the functions described in the news article would significantly increase the utility of an already useful GPS function.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't Waze just another way for the statits to track and control our "carbon footprint"? I also heard somewhere that the GPS system is on the verge of failing?