You’re Welcome: A Tech Tip from Nick Burns, er Byrne
Lately, my daily commute has been aided by a new social mapping app that has been all the rave (CNN, WSJ, The Economist and NYT) in recent weeks. The app is called Waze (recently purchased by Google for $1 billion, hence the recent newsworthiness) and relies on real-time information uploaded by users to update traffic conditions, map new and uncharted roadways, warn drivers of highway hazards, and provide real-time updates on local gas prices. The app also provides a navigation tool to help users get to and from their destinations all while avoiding traffic, speed traps, and road hazards. In effect, the technology—which is free—provides an additional layer of “intel” that your pricey Garman or Tom Tom is unable to deliver and that the “on the hour” radio traffic reports might deliver, but only after you’ve made the wrong turn.
Indeed, Waze depends almost entirely on user engagement to ensure real-time updates. To this end, the app revolves around a system of points users can accrue for contributing to the app’s uploads which serves as an incentive to continuously provide information as you drive or ride. Undeniably, use of this app might pose a public health risk as Waze users barrel down the highway while simultaneously tapping away on their phones all in an effort to inform the driving public of road hazards. However, I see Waze as a tool for local government (and businesses) to monitor local traffic, quickly dispatch resources, and assess road conditions at no charge via crowd sourced inputs.
Regardless, I am confident that Waze will be worth your time and might save you some as well. So, to my fellow classmates commuting to and from your summer internships and in search of a better navigation tool and/or more in-car distractions, I say to you—in the words of Nick Burns, the resident SNL-created-tech-guru-smarty-pants—“You’re Welcome!”