Introducing the W10 and the new Connected Citizens Platform
One of the strongest features of Waze is the real-time data we receive from users reporting through the app on everything that happens on the roads: traffic, accidents, construction, road closures, road hazards, weather and more. This information keeps our algorithms accurate while efficiently and safely navigating you to your destination.
In the past few years, we had built relationships with local governments all over the US, and even internationally, with representatives alerting us to future road closures and major events like marathons.
But what if we could access this information automatically? What if we could design a custom API to allow most of this information to populate automatically? Think of any emergency situation or natural disaster- how do you get information to people on the ground as fast as possible? How do you alert them to roads rendered undriveable by earthquakes or floods? How do you let them know where they can get aid or shelter? Social media had already shown us that crowdsourcing emergency information works – we needed to strengthen our platform for the benefit of the users.
The W10: Sharing Data for Good
A pilot program with the city of Rio De Janeiro, described here [embedded Rio post], taught that similar initiatives could succeed in other cities, regardless of location or size. We began seeking out new partners, evaluating levels of innovation and technical capability to ensure the data exchange could be efficient and successful.
The W10 are the first 10 international cities, United States Departments of Transportation (DOTs), and municipal organizations whom Waze has empowered to serve their citizens on an even deeper connected level. The New York City Police Department, Cities of Rio de Janeiro and Jakarta are among international partners who have committed to more efficient traffic monitoring & emergency response:
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Barcelona, Spain and the Government of Catalonia
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- San Jose, Costa Rica
- The State of Florida, USA
- The State of Utah, USA
- The City of Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Los Angeles County, California, USA
- The New York City Police Department
These partners were chosen for a variety of reasons, and no small part due to their enthusiasm in improving the lives of their citizens. Many have access to data outside of Waze’s ecosystem, like advanced in-road sensors and street cameras. This sort of information is powerful enough on its own; when paired with Waze’s real-time data they become part of an invaluable resource for an entire populace.
The custom API we’re offering quickly condenses multiple information streams from Wazers and municipal partners to answer the question “What’s happening right now, and where?” We are just as concerned with the privacy of our users as they are, if not moreso, and for that reason the only data we’re sharing are things already available through the Waze app like incident reporting and road closure information.
Everything is anonymous from the user reporting it, no individual driving history will ever be shared (or sold for that matter), and no, it’s not possible for the local police department to see you were speeding and consequently give you a ticket. That being said, we’re sure we can speak for your local government, police force and, of course, fellow drivers when we urge you to drive safely and abide by all posted signs. Anonymity is never an excuse for unsafe driving.
The W10 program was meant to enable cities to use affordable mobile tech and crowdsourcing to improve their existing infrastructure. This will not happen overnight, but someone has to make the first step and we’re in this for the long-term.
Moving forward, Connecting Citizens
It’s probably clear that we don’t plan on stopping with the first 10 partners. If we have the ability to help somewhere in the world while in turn helping to improve the lives of our users, we’re going to take that opportunity every time. Just another reason we are rolling out the W10 into a worldwide initiative that we call the Connected Citizens program.
Connected Citizens will be the natural evolution of the W10- bringing cities and citizens together through data to better inform both sides on what’s happening on the roads, and where. If you’re a citizen and you want to get involved, just keeping using Waze. That’s your most valuable contribution, something for which we are grateful, daily.
More than anything else in the world, we want to get you to your destination. We want you to know exactly what’s going on around you, whether it’s a road closure from a marathon or something more ominous like a flood or hurricane. You, the user, are our most important resource.
No one knows more about what’s happening in a city than the people who live there.