BANGALORE: Ever been stuck in a traffic jam wishing that there were someway to have received advance warning? With virtual message boards of the Bangalore Traffic Police not being too effective, people in the city have turned to other innovative ways in order to spread the news.
Enter ‘Waze’, an open source software which originated in Israel as the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer who found that pre-installed software on GPS devices did not offer dynamic information on road and traffic conditions and thus came up with ‘Waze’. The app page on Android market states that its aim is to “outsmart traffic” and that is exactly what users of the applications are achieving in the city.
‘Waze’ offers users many options, besides voice navigation and traffic updates. Users can also update their posts on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and also take snaps of the road block to upload for the map. With a global presence of 12 million users, ‘Waze’ has taken off in a big way in Bangalore city with close to 800 users already adopting the software. With the new release of Version 3.0 for Android phones, the software is spreading like wildfire amongst the city’s techies.
“The UI (User Interface) allows you to update details like traffic jams lane-wise, location of surveillance cameras, accidents and many more things that would affect a vehicle driver,” said Kaushik, a techie, adding that it was heartening to finally see a mobile app which has been adopted by so many people in the city.
It also allows the user to passively contribute driving-data like time taken, average speed and stoppages which then help the company map out the average speed at certain times of the day on specific roads. This helps the user when a destination is selected since slow routes are highlighted with the average speed hovering on top of the roads in the map.
“It learns routes I take everyday to office and suggests alternative routes based on traffic updates provided. It also gives a lot of additional information and is a great tool to network as I can message any user in the city and get a personal view of the situation,” said Varsha, another techie. The software shows the user icons of members and their locations along with their average speed. ‘Waze’ has become a big hit in many countries along with India and had last year raised around 25 million in cash in 2010.
How does it work?
The app works on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology coupled with the phone’s data connection (GPRS/3G) and maps sourced by ‘Waze’. The level of detailing for the country however, is not upto the level of other maps on the market but, the clincher is the ease of being able to upload any details and the facility of talking to other people who use the software. ‘Waze’ also has a dedicated group for adding details to the map and one can volunteer as well.
‘Waze’ is currently available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia smartphones. It is a free download from the website http: //www.waze.com/