Waze Traffic Tool

The smart phone you carry with you could become a smart way to avoid traffic snarls. The Waze social networking navigation app for drivers can now be used to get reports of real-time traffic data, and your phone could be adding to the knowledge base to help speed you on your way. Trucking companies are eying the service as a way to save time and money.

Waze announced recently that it now has more than 7.3 million subscribers using its service, and paired the news with a report it has secured $30 million in venture capital led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

Noam Bardin, Waze's CEO, says the company is providing users, including those working truck driving jobs, with a service they need and want.

The service began in January 2009 in Israel.  Currently, the largest concentration of Waze users in a metropolitan area is in Los Angeles, Calif. During a three-day closure for repairs of the 405 Freeway last July, Waze partnered with the city's ABC network affiliate to provide Waze-user-generated traffic reports in real time.

The event, which became known as “Carmageddon,” proved to be a boon for Waze, which saw 200,000 subscribers added to their roles. The company did not provide specific numbers on trucking industry participation.

With the addition of those users helping push the subscriber base past the 7 million mark and a total of $67 million in funding, Waze is quickly on its way to being a worldwide service, Bardin said.

Services such as Waze, which rely on users contributing data to the overall picture, take time to build a base, Bardin said. Waze has now reached a high enough user density in many cities that it can start to provide valuable real-time data to drivers, he added. Additional interest from the trucking industry would help drive those number even higher.

The data Waze provides is more “granular” than traditional reports, Bardin says, but he believes Waze will eventually displace the traffic report as it exists today. The process, he says, will take time. Those new report forms should have a positive impact on those who make their livings in truck driving jobs.

Joining the Waze board of directors are John Malloy of Blue Run Ventures and Jason Wong of Horizon Ventures. Josh Silverman, former CEO of Skype, and Mary Meeker of Kleiner-Perkins join the company as strategic advisers and board observers.

The Waze application is a free download available from the company's website, www.waze.com, and runs on several popular smart phone platforms, including the iPhone, Android, Nokia, Windows Mobile and Blackberry. With the application running, Waze records local driving conditions as you go automatically and reports them back to other drivers via a real-time map.

Waze also provides navigation assistance, and users can opt to report traffic conditions not related to their speed, such as construction delays, police patrols, weather and road hazards.

The built-in GPS provides voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, including real-time, user-generated reports on traffic and road conditions. Waze can also provide alternative route suggestions. The software offers integration with Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, as well as its own chat feature and forums among its social networking toolkit.

Waze users can also contribute to map-making, reporting errors in the mapping software and updating it to include missing roads, exits, on-ramps and intersections.

So far in the United States, Waze users seem to be concentrated in the southern states, especially Texas and California. Along the eastern seaboard, use is spreading in the New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Learn more at http://www.waze.com/



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