Google in partnership with Safaricom launches traffic app Waze

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waze
Traffic is an issue for people who live in cities and Nairobi is no different. One of the things people complain about is the traffic situation in this city. To help people be able to use their smartphones in a strategic way and to make their lives easier Safaricom and Google today launched Waze in Kenya. Waze, whose slogan is “outsmarting traffic, together” is an interactive traffic information solution that offers access to accurate and real time traffic information. The information is based on crowd sourced data from other road users.

The Waze app is a free GPS based mobile application that is already being used in other countries as a traffic information tool.

It can be used to:

  • Give reports on roads
  • To gather information on accidents and get help
  • Find out the problem spots with traffic jams
  • Give advice on alternative routes when there is jam
  • Map out roads so that future users of the same roads can be able to know whether the roads they are going to are tarmacked or not.
  • Update places that do not have addresses
  • Add street names

The Waze app integrates with the Google calendar so it can be able to tell when you have an appointment, and if there are directions to the venue it will tell you how to get there in the fastest time possible. It provides real-time updates on road conditions. It also has a voice option which is very handy when driving. If you don’t want it to keep running in the background you can shut down the app. If you don’t it will continue to run in the background.

Waze is available on the Android’s google play, Windows Phone store or iOS App Store. Safaricom will also be sending out an SMS which customers can click on to go to the waze homepage. There are also plans to add it to Safaricom devices in the future to make it easier for consumers to start using it. Once the app has been downloaded, customers put in their mobile numbers, after which they will receive a verification code.

The Waze button on the left gives you these options
The Waze button on the left gives you these options
The Waze button on the right gives you many buttons so that you can report different issues
The Waze button on the right gives you many buttons so that you can report different issues

The app has 2 components. One is passive – when it is running in the background it can get information for updates. In its active phase it can be used for: Mapping, telling your friends where you are (This feature can be turned off), reporting traffic jams and sharing destination maps.

It works with Google maps; actually it is layered onto the map. You can record new roads on the map using your phone. Then later on go to your computer to verify the information and say what kind of road it is, whether tarmac or dirt. Then the information will be verified through a community and the information updated on Google maps.
Waze has been partnering with broadcasters, municipalities and carriers. Safaricom becomes the 9th carrier to partner with Google on this app.

“Mobile technology has evolved from being just a tool that enables interpersonal communication to being a value-added solution in many sectors. Safaricom is keen to continue to extend the benefits of our more connected world to our subscribers as we work to transform their lives by putting them closer to critical information,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director, Consumer Business at Safaricom.

Safaricom has been extending its 4G network. They are planning to expand its 4G network to 15 major towns and increase 3G network coverage to other areas. Safaricom sees this solution as a way to help people transform their lives further by being able to deal with the issue of jam. There are currently over 11 million data subscribers on the network.

“Partnering with like-minded organizations adds more value to our ambition to make people’s lives simpler. Traffic information on Waze, which is updated in real time, will save users the hassle of enormous amounts of time spent in traffic by offering alternative routes,” said Charles Murito, Country Manager, Google Kenya.

There are plans to work with the municipals or counties like they do in other countries. The app has been successfully used in other markets, and there are already 4.4 million motorists in 200 countries using it. It is also being used by municipalities in places like Brazil to better manage traffic and deal with incidents like accidents etc.

As Safaricom installs CCTV cameras all around Nairobi to enhance security it  will be interesting to see how this can also be used to better manage the traffic in Nairobi.

 

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