Free navigation app Waze is in the news today - literally - with an announcement that it has entered into a partnership with twelve TV stations across the country, including several in California, as well as in Texas and Pennsylvania, to bring real-time data on traffic and road conditions to their broadcasts.
The free app, which debuted in 2009, relies on user input to provide real-time navigation and traffic information. Users drive with the app open on their phones, and the data is uploaded to Waze’s servers, allowing others to be notified of traffic slowdowns and road conditions.
Waze hit the spotlight this summer during the so-called Carmaggedon caused by the temporary closing of one of Los Angeles’ busiest highways. The closure made notoriously terrible Los Angeles traffic far more complicated. During the closure, however, Waze partnered with a Los Angeles ABC affiliate to provide the station with real-time traffic data. The Israeli company took to Twitter this morning to make its announcement.
The company, which is based in Israel, has 9 million users and announced in October that it had raised $30 million in growth funding. Although some of the app’s features face competition from the Google Maps functionality on Android devices, it is unique among navigation apps for iOS and other platforms. In addition to iOS and Android, the app is also available for Blackberry and Nokia devices.
Given the amount of coverage generated by this announcement, it is likely that the number of Waze users will spike over the next few days. Both the Waze website and the in-app account creation process were returning occasional connection errors late this morning.
I contacted Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski, Director of Communications at Waze, asking for comment. He had this to say: "The traffic segment is a staple of morning news, but one that isn't always in the spotlight for innovation. We're very excited to give it the social makeover it deserves. Waze works because people trust citizen-shared information. The launch of our broadcast program isn't just validation for our community of drivers, but for the power and accuracy of crowdsourcing."