Social mapping and navigation company Waze is partnering with 12 local broadcast stations including KGO-TV San Francisco, KABC Los Angeles, WFAA Dallas, and WPVI-TV Philadelphia, to bring its citizen-traffic reporting platform mainstream.
Founded in 2009, Waze offers free apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms, that include turn-by-turn navigation for drivers, and at the same time, uses that user data to build out its own maps. If there are issues on the road, such as major traffic jams, all of that information comes in through the apps and can be sent to other drivers.
The apps rely on crowdsourced data, from driver-created maps, to citizen traffic reports, to community-curated points of interest. On average, Waze users are reporting a traffic jam every 4.2 second, and an accident every 44 seconds. With millions of users, that’s a massive amount of data.
Traffic reporters are using Waze to display real-time road conditions and reports on highways and surface streets from drivers on the road, from the convenience of an iPad in the studio. In Los Angeles, home to more than 450,000 “wazers”, the ABC7 Traffic Spotters group already has nearly 3,400 active members, all participating for daily chances to have their report shown on live on TV. In turn, Waze gives broadcasters and their audiences insight into accurate traffic conditions on almost every route imaginable.
Waze faces competition from Google with respect to Android device navigation functionality, but the startup brings this technology to a number of mobile platforms and has landed impressive partnerships. Waze recently raised $30 million in new funding from Horizons Ventures Hong Kong (the fund that manages the private venture investments of Facebook investor Li Ka-shing), and the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Digital Growth Fund and iFund.