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Every time we get behind the wheel we’re at the mercy of a multitude of variables that are simply out of our control. Weather, crashes and highway design flaws can all conspire to turn a short trip a drawn-out nightmare. But what is being done to minimize congestion? Municipalities can do a few things to reduce on-road problems, and so can you.
Will the snow ever stop? Until it does (and even when it’s not falling), at least there’s the new Waze app that works with your iPhone to alert drivers to what hazards are awaiting for you on the road.
The waze app is the first real-time voice-based hazard reporting feature for GPS commuters and travelers worldwide that lets iPhone users stay alert and get to their destinations safely. If a user sees any number of road hazards, weather conditions, and potentially dangerous obstacles, they can report it by using the app. You can record a brief voice-description and let others in the area know what’s going on, who will be warned by fellow wazers’ voice-alert beforehand. Think of it as “Paying it forward” and sending some good driving karma your way.
Some of the hazardous conditions you can report on include traffic and accidents ahead, as well as dangerous weather conditions such as ice, heavy snow and flooding.
“Everyday, drivers are faced with any number of dangers on the road including ice, accidents, and flooding for example. The unpredictable nature of these hazards and lack of immediate road data leaves drivers vulnerable to the conditions ahead,” said Noam Bardin, CEO of waze. “The only way this information can be collected and distributed in real-time is by the initiative of group-minded individuals and a means to warn their fellow drivers.”
You can get the waze app at the Apple AppStore and Android Market Place. It can also be downloaded from the waze website for Symbian and Windows Mobile devices.
We’ve all heard of social media, but how about social navigation? Waze is the first self-described “social navigation” app that uses a community of users to build and confirm mapping based on U.S. government map databases. This community also reports on things like traffic jams and accidents, and the location of speed cams and police activity.
Users can confirm routes and track traffic and road-speed patterns, but like any app that needs others to provide critical information, there will be gaps in map data and other information until enough people are recruited to fill it in.
What you’ll like about Waze is that the approach to building community and getting users where they’re going is done with a healthy dose of humor rather than a just-the-facts approach.
The Waze app is almost like a videogame. Its cartoon-like icon appears when a user drives a road that’s previously uncharted by the app. The icon noms on Pac-Man like dots to earn “points,” and features “Easter eggs” that can earn users bonus points. Users can also change the mood of their driver ID to “cool,” “happy” or “mad.” If you’re all about the social aspect of this app, you can view icons of other nearby Waze users and use the app to find Facebook friends on the road.
Other cool features that come with Waze include it voice-guided turn-by-turn directions and fast route recalculations, and it has a zooming feature and can be integrated with an iPhone’s contacts.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]