Sunday, December 23, 2012

Social GPS navigation. A good way to find your Waze... .


See other drivers and the event which
they add in real time
Just in time for the holiday season a good friend of mine suggested to test out the Waze GPS navigation app.

I have always been a great fan of Google Maps, and was a bit suspicious about trying out a new GPS app. My conclusion is that each app has justified their right to live side-by-side on my phone screen, and here is why.

Waze is a real-time community app allowing users to communicate in a very simple way about the events they observe in traffic. Yesterday, I drove seven hours from São Paulo to Teresópolis in the state of Rio, and unlike most people who take the Ayrton Senna (BR-070) I chose the parallel Dutra (BR-060) highway. Google maps helped me to make the right decision as the Ayrton Senna was heavily congested on a section of about 10 km. The precise colored traffic information on Google Maps is always a great help to me when driving through the yet few cities in Brazil that are covered with this great feature which show traffic congestions with accuracy down to 100 meters. Waze, on the other hand, give the opportunity for users to communicate in real time about accidents, police check points, bad weather, heavy traffic, gas prices, obstacles, and other hazards on or by the road. You can also sign up to one of the groups on Waze and share traffic information with others from your work, street, or city.
Check out gas prices on a gas station
near you

When I left the São Paulo urban area and drove into the Brazilian hinterlands I left the Google Traffic overage area, and found that the Waze app offered a great value add by giving me a good overview of the traffic. I got alerts on heavy rain, accidents, slow traffic, and some of them even with detailed comments from others on what had happened and the consequences for drivers.

So when traffic comes to a stand-still, things are now less tedious with Waze as you can now get information on what is ahead, and even chat with others in the traffic while the car is stopped, which those of us living in São Paulo are quite used to. I guess it won't be long until we hear about the first couple who met in a traffic jam.

Google Latitude, a once separate app now included as a function within Google Maps, never seemed to get me as a regular user on sharing my position, but Waze seems to be easier and more convenient to use if you momentarily want to share the progress on your route towards your destination. The Meet Up tab offers you to share your current location, share your progress en route, and to request a pick-up with one of your friends on Waze. The function is disconnected when you reach your destination or otherwise stop your navigation towards that point, which should attend most privacy concerns.
Send SMS or email so other can follow you en route to your
destination.

Based on the increasing problems with traffic jamming up in cities around the world, there should be a good basis for a growing audience to this application. Going social in traffic seems as a great idea, if we just remember to keep attention on the road, but Waze will help you remember that by the way it's build. I look forward to testing it in the US or Europe in a not too distant future.

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