Intelligent transportation systems just became within reach for governments of every size, all around the world, with the announcement that hugely popular community-based traffic and navigation app Waze is partnering with Esri.
Last week, I was one of the 5,000 delegates who attended the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems – the event where Esri President Jack Dangermond announced this new Waze/Esri agreement.
Since then, I’ve been contacted by many managers in the transport sector who are interested to know what this new alliance means for them. Because of this, I thought I’d write a short post that provides details and explains the benefits.
The agreement is centred around what’s called the Waze Connected Citizens Program – a collaboration designed to benefit both government and the community.
Essentially, what can happen now is the Waze application can exchange publicly available traffic information freely with governments, using the ArcGIS platform.
This means alerts reported by the public can be captured within government systems, while the Big Data already managed and mapped internally by governments can be made accessible to Waze’s 65 million monthly active users.
And because there’s no need to invest in sensor networks or an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, this real-time reporting can be leveraged by any government, big or small.
The advantages of this two-way data share are numerous:
- Less delays for commuters
- Ease of access to road closure information
- Reduced congestion and lower carbon emissions
- Improved traffic and emergency management
- More responsive maintenance and utility work
With larger volumes of crowdsourced information available to be analysed, governments can easily identify hotspots for traffic jams and accidents.
Commuters also become far better informed, as they can be quickly notified, in real-time, about unexpected crashes and storms, and planned events such as parades, street protests and festivals.
To put the Waze/Esri partnership into real-world context, I’ll share with you a brief use case from the City of Johns Creek in Georgia, USA, who are, in their words, “trying to push the envelope to deliver really great services to citizens and staff”.
They’ve recently developed an open data portal hosted via ArcGIS Online to improve transparency and support economic development throughout the city – and have made that system, along with the Big Data stored within their ArcGIS for Server framework, accessible to Waze.
What’s great about this development though is that in addition to the previously mentioned benefits of sharing real-time traffic data feeds, City of Johns Creek are also leveraging the channel to deliver business location information into Waze as a way to supplement the app’s searching capabilities.
The aim here is to make it easier for members of the community to find and support local businesses in Johns Creek by placing potentially underutilised information directly in the hands of citizens.
This is a really smart spin-off advantage from the technology integration, and I foresee more complementary gains like this emerging from intelligent transportation systems in the future.