Thursday, February 17, 2011

COD: Waze means getting there without the road hassles

Thanks to the ad:tech blog for publishing this first.

OK, $5 will get you $10 you have heard of this one already.

Waze is a social mobile application providing free turn-by-turn navigation empowered through the live conditions of the road. This Israel-based start-up combines great turn by turn directions with real-time crowd sourced reports about driving conditions and congestion.

Based upon the idea that the 101 is only the best way from Palo Alto to San Francisco as long as the traffic is moving, Waze automatically detects the car speed of members, identifying congestion zones before Sky Chopper 10 makes it to the scene. You download Waze onto your smartphone, then take that phone with you (you were planning to anyway, right?) as you drive. GPS tells Waze where you are and how fast you are moving. When traffic slows or stops, Waze colors the roadway behind that user red on its real time traffic maps.

That's the passive foundation of the platform, but Waze also allows people to describe road conditions at fixed points, and even photograph the causes of traffic issues and problems. Special local driving clubs help add more depth to the reporting, as well as a bit of fun and connection to others.

Before you even ask, please be assured that Waze actually won't allow a driver to send updates and photos when the car is in motion. So don't think that this is a safety hazard. Rather, the platform is out to save the enormous amounts of time and energy spent in traffic slowdowns and jams. Here's a guided tour.

They have all the maps -- the key with Waze is to get a critical mass of drivers signed up in a given market, so that they can offer genuine value in the driving conditions "essence" of the offering. To drive greater usage, the company is planning to incorporate some social gaming elements that reward people for desirable actions. That's a nice twist and may add a little fun to the drudgery of commuting.

Waze works with the following smartphone platforms:

-Windows Mobile

They plan to monetize in part through geo-loco-based ads and offers. That's how brands and agencies can fit into all this. The added information that Waze can provide about a consumer may be valuable in a geo-loco context.

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