Frustrated by traffic? There's a new app that will use your own personal nightmare commutes to help the city figure out new ways to prevent them from happening in the first place. NY1’s Adam Balkin filed the following report.
Think of it kind of like the 21st Century version of a trucker’s CB radio. Waze is a mobile GPS app that allows all its users, as one big community, to warn each other about road issues, from accidents to traffic to police, hiding along the highway. Well now, Waze is launching the Connected Citizens Program getting the transportation departments of ten cities, from New York to Rio to Jakarta, on board contributing to and interpreting data from the app.
“The best way to look at this is as a two-way data share meaning we’re sharing publicly identifiable information that’s already within the app and the Department of Transportation will be sharing things like street sensors or road cameras,” said Julie Mossler of Waze.
That means users of the app will have more information at their disposal when planning trips, but cities will also be able to more quickly get alerted to and therefore more quickly respond to accidents or traffic tie-ups.
“Suddenly it’s like we have thousands of cameras because Wazers are telling there’s heavy traffic, there’s a car crash, so by this we can decide whether we send a tow truck, whether we have to change the cycle of the traffic lamps,” said Pedro Junkueira of Rio De Janeiro’s Traffic Operations Center.
Now traffic officials from these cities say right now they have a pretty good idea of what’s going on the main highways and thoroughfares. Where this system will come in handy, in particular though, is the lesser traveled side streets.
“We have eyes on everything on the interstate, very little on the arterials, it’s just getting information to the users so they can go around it and we can free up congestion on our system,” said Tom Byron of Florida’s Department of Transportation.
Developers of Waze, which incidentally is a free app, say this Connected Citizens Program is officially launching now after being piloted and put through its paces in Brazil, primarily as a new tool to help deal with congestion during the recent visit of the pope and the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament.