I love reading about mobile crowdsourcing services, it just feels like the two fit perfectly and allows companies to come up with really creative combinations of technology and input from their user base.
Waze is one of those companies that is using people power to build a business in a pretty genius way. It’s a mapping application which users open on their GPS phone as they drive, this feeds the service with real time traffic information by measuring the actual speeds they are travelling across specific routes (if the road has a limit of 70mph and the user is going 20mph, it asks if there is traffic)
What’s even more interesting is that Waze is building up extremely accurate (and valuable) mapping data while the app is open. This means that new roads, route closures and even map inaccuracies can found way ahead of competitors like Google and Ovi Maps.
Waze users can also report problems, with just a few clicks they can tell others in the area they have just passed a police radar, accident, construction or many other road conditions. It actually seems like a real sense of community, everyone chipping to make the service better for not just themselves but others too.
After launching in Israel, they were able to map 91% of the country in less than a year. They are on track to achieve the same in the U.S. They actually started with a completely blank map and users build the service from scratch. Crazyness.
They are then able to do data sharing deals with map companies, who give them maps as a foundation for their service in return for the up-to-date data that Waze owns.
Foursquare eat your heart out.
How do you turn navigation into something you use once in a while to something you use everyday? Make it fun.
Waze even includes gaming elements, which at first sounds pretty dangerous while you’re driving but it is actually working out extremely well for the service.
After trailing its first game called “Road Goodies“, they found that 24% of drivers took part and on average drove an extra 150 percent further to gain rewards.
Now here’s the clever part – Waze incentivised drivers with prizes encouraging them to head to certain parts of the city which needed to be validated or filled in. The GPS data is then used to correct the map. G.e.n.i.u.s.
The game was in the style of Pacman, the three users with the highest scores won Amazon gift cards up to $500.
Waze now has over 500,000 users and is available for iPhone, Android and Symbian – head on over to download it now.
Check out the video below which has a ‘live’ demo of the app along with Diane from Waze commentating, gives a great walk-through of the service.