“Waze” is a navigational application (app) that gives you navigation from point to point as well as road hazard instantaneous alerts and police in the area notifications. The following excerpt explaining Waze is from their website:
Waze is all about contributing to the ‘common good’ out there on the road.
By connecting drivers to one another, we help people create local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. That might mean helping them avoid the frustration of sitting in traffic, cluing them in to a police trap or shaving five minutes off of their regular commute by showing them new routes they never even knew about.
So, how does it work?
After typing in their destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a ‘heads-up’ about what’s to come.
In addition to the local communities of drivers using the app, Waze is also home to an active community of online map editors who ensure that the data in their areas is as up-to-date as possible.
Does it work? Well, yeah very well actually. It has saved many drivers from speeding tickets they would have otherwise received. Wazers have the application operational while driving and simply slow down once the app notifies them that police are ahead. The navigational portion of Waze is very effective as well because they are continually updating their maps so users get the best possible route to their destination.
The apps complete functionality only works via the users that report incidents on the app. If users don’t report to Waze via the app that police or road hazards, such as potholes, are ahead then the app loses its functionality. So, if you open the app and only see 5 -10 users in your area then it is likely your info will not be that up to date. On the other hand, if you see 100 “wazers” in the area that you are driving then the app is up to date and you can count on it to alert you to traffic situations (provided those 100 users are reporting info via the Waze app).
Waze lets you notify other drivers of heavy traffic (moderate/heavy/standstill). The app will offer alternate routes for you when traffic is bad. You can even find the cheapest gas prices based on what other wazers are posting in your area.
Additionally, Waze will also allow a user to report traffic accidents. Could someone report to Waze via the app about a traffic accident and then an astute 911 call taker dispatch emergency personnel even before a 911 call comes in? A pretty cool concept that could actually save lives.
Check out this report from an actual 911 incident in Texas where Waze was utilized in exactly that kind of scenario and perhaps saved lives:
Accident Reports By Wazers Beats 9-1-1 Call By Eleven Minutes
We have quite the story to share with you today. A few weeks back, we announced The Waze Transport SDK (software development kit) which allows third parties to implement some of Waze’s most powerful features in their native applications. We were reminded of the massive potential of this tool last week when our partners at Genesis Pulse relayed the following story to us. The story highlights how real-time information provided by Wazers on the road could revolutionize how first responders react to emergency situations and perhaps even save lives.
For those less familiar, Genesis Pulse is a U.S-based decision-support and situational awareness tool that aims to decreases response times of emergency vehicles. By integrating the Waze Transport SDK, Genesis Pulse is able to provide emergency call centers a feed where the center can see traffic events, such as accidents, in real time. Knowing about an accident in real time can give first responders a decisive head start towards the scene as they can proceed immediately rather than needing to wait for the information to be reported via 9-1-1.
We saw the power of this insight firsthand last week in East Texas when an accident on I-20 reported by Wazers appeared on an emergency call center’s feed. A dispatcher was able to pre-alert the nearest ambulance to make its way towards the area until a formal call came in from 9-1-1. Eventually a call to 9-1-1 was received, eleven minutes after the incident was first reported via Wazers on the scene. Thanks to the dispatcher pre-alerting the unit to the event, an ambulance was able to arrive on the scene within 3.5 minutes. A typical response from their station to the location of the event would have otherwise been 15 minutes.
We’re truly amazed (and humbled) to know that Wazers using the app can have such a profound impact not only on daily driving but transportation efficiency as well. This is especially true in situations like this where time saved can mean lives saved. We hope to have many more stories like this to share in the future.
So should 911 call centers be utilizing Waze? First of all the information has to be accurate. How can you be sure of accuracy of information? Well, you can’t. Someone calling into 911 could give you false information the same as a Waze user reporting to the Waze app. A good 911 call center will take the 911 calls and send out the emergency response units as directed by protocol. A great 911 call center will utilize all the tools available, to include traffic cams, GPS, receiving 911 calls, receiving 911 texts, Waze, and any other applications, that will provide a more timely emergency response to an emergency situation.