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Why Waze is Much More Than Google's Other Sat-Nav App

Recently interviewed Finlay Clark about the challenges and opportunities that come with managing with the largest community of drivers in the world to outsmart traffic.

Waze is much more than a traffic and navigation app, just ask its passionate global community. The secret to its success is less about the technology and more about the network of drivers who work together 365 days a year to outsmart traffic to save both time and money.

The smartphone Sat-Nav app was leveraging real-time data before it was even a trend. Millions of drivers quickly warmed to valuable features such as traffic reroutes and fuel price alerts. Unsurprisingly, Google went to acquire Waze for a cool $1.1B over five years ago.

I wanted to learn more about why there is much more to Waze than most people realize. I recently interviewed Finlay Clark about the challenges and opportunities that come with managing with the largest community of drivers in the world to outsmart traffic.

Can you tell me why Waze is much more than a Sat Nav app and what problem you are solving for drivers all over the world?

I think we’re evolving from just being a navigation app that gets you from A to B and advising drivers the most efficient route to reach their destination. We now see Waze as a global transportation company. We have one of the richest datasets of real-time transportation information in the world.

When we give this information to the right partners, they can make informed decisions about the way in which their cities run. Making driving easier and giving people the quickest route is just one aspect of the many things we do.

Can you tell me how Waze is also exploring beacon technology?

There are many tunnels in cities throughout the world where you have to go offline, and if Waze is unable to offer critical information and attempt to change lanes at high speed, accidents often occur. At Waze, we are now working with city partners around the world that we can provide solutions to help reduce and minimize accidents.

By merely placing beacons on the side of tunnels, we can offer an inexpensive way of preventing accidents that arise when drivers lose their GPS signal. We are working with over 600 partners in cities from all over the world to ensure drivers hit the right exit, even when they are underground.

Can you tell me more about Waze carpool and how it was a big hit in Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on locals?

Waze has been working on crisis response for many years. But, on this occasion, we rolled out our separate carpool app and were able to connect drivers to riders at a time where roughly a million cars that were un-drivable.

We worked closely with local traffic authority’s to spread the message that the community was offering free rides to people that were affected. To put it in perspective, there were two and a half million people that needed shelter, and there were also over 2,000 road closures to contend with.

Getting the product launched to make a real difference to people lives is an excellent example of the role that we can play during a crisis.

What is your grand vision for Waze?

We are thinking more about how we take cars more off the road. We’re launching transportation as a service on our carpool app driving is very inefficient to the transport network. At the moment, 80% of the time people driving on the road are using one seat, you’d never get on a flight where there was one seat, but in cars, we accept that it’s very normal.

We also believe that it’s highly unlikely that anyone that is born today will need a driver’s license. In the next 15 to 20 years, there is no doubt that cars will move from assisted driving to fully automated. Sure, people are currently debating how long it’s going to take regulate, etc., but it will happen.

I’m very optimistic and think in the future, our kids will think it was crazy that we let humans drive. They get tired, drunk and have a high error rate and responsible for unnecessary accidents. Our vision is a future is going to offer more services move both things and people around the cities faster and cheaper. After all the less time we spend in vehicles, the more productive we are and imagine what cities will be able to do with all this space.

Waze is in an exciting position, and we will keep building and working so that people can use our data to experiment and do things differently in the future. Interesting times ahead.

Waze began its journey by empowering citizens with real-time congestion, information. But, I think this is just a small part of the what they do. Waze is now working with authorities, global events teams, and exploring new technologies that will improve the future of transportation.

You can listen to full interview with Finlay Clark by clicking on the link below.

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