Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
The Waze app can be downloaded on your smart phone to give you real time information on traffic almost anywhere in the U.S. as well as many other countries. Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. They use “crowd sourcing” which is allowing the users of the app to do all the work. What geniuses! They get us to do the work and they sold their company to Google for $1.3 Billion. Waze just wants you to open the app on your phone before you leave on your commute or trip across the country. While your app is open, they are tracking you and your speed across the roads and streets along the way. They can tell when you and other users are going 15 mph on I-40 through Arizona in a 75 mph zone and can quickly tell that something is wrong. Your icon is visible to other users and shows that you’re going 15 mph and they can figure out that there’s a problem; construction zone or an accident for example. Normally the specific information will be added by users in real time for increased accuracy. Last week, I was the passenger as my daughter drove me to her new college 4 hours away. I decided to play with the app and see how well it performed. Observations while using the app
- Other Waze users appear on the screen in the nearby area
- Disabled vehicles along route were reported less than 10 minutes before we encountered them
- Road hazard, (muffler in the road) was reported and the information was less than 10 minutes old
- I was notified where sitting police officers were with 75% accuracy.
- Disabled vehicle in tunnel was reported and I could see the other Waze users sitting still in traffic ahead of me. I could even see them start moving again (with average speed of 13 mph) indicating that the vehicle was cleared.
- The app gives voice updates when you’re near a hazard, but it would be hard to hear it in a truck.
- Construction zones and road closures were all accurately depicted.
- If data is incorrect, the user can update as conditions evolve throughout the day. For example, the broken down car is towed away.
- The app can be distracting if using it as a driver. Remember, I was using it as passenger.
- However, the information generated by all the Waze users is very helpful and can be accessed safely.
We will be seeing more of this type of information in the future. We will even see this type of information hardwired into our vehicles very soon. In an earlier blog, I wrote about Ford Motor Co. CEO Bill Ford who told us in 2011 that this technology was coming and would be part of the new car options. As more and more people get smart phones, the crowd sourcing platform will grow to be the most powerful and become the standard in sharing real time information.