As soon as you enter your coordinates, you suddenly see other Waze users all over the map, and these people are actively updating everyone with information about traffic, where police are located (and you can identify them as visible or hidden), accident reports, road hazards, locations of cameras, map issues and even gas prices. Within each category is a limited selection to add a layer of detail.
So, for example, if you're interested in notifying everyone of traffic, you can choose moderate, heavy or standstill. If you're a passenger, you can type in a message (typing is blocked for safety reasons) and you can even notify others if it's just in your lane. You can also take a picture (only useful if your smartphone is secured through a holder that is attached to your window). Lastly, Waze -- like many new and up coming apps -- leverages some for the newer smartphone technology to add depth. In this instance, the smartphone and Waze is also able to let you know how fast you're travelling, so when you select traffic, the app automatically attaches your average speed at that point to the social data.
"The app offers users two routes to their destination: a standard shortest one and a traffic-optimized Greenway one, along with the approximate amount of time and fuel it would take to get there using each. If you choose the Greenway path, the app will ping Greenway's server every 30 seconds with your GPS location to determine if the current route is still the best- -- a decision made based on knowledge about your location and speed and information about other Greenway users on the road. Greenway assumes each street has a certain capacity based on its length, number of lanes, and speed limit, Brüggemann says, and reserves slots for participating drivers, directing cars so a road never reaches maximum capacity. If a jam does occur -- which Greenway would detect by looking at your average speed -- the app will react by rerouting drivers."
Currently, the app is being used and tested in Munich, Germany.Smarter cities. These apps are not about outsmarting a speeding ticket or getting somewhere faster. Technology is a tool best suited to help us become better global citizens. The implications of this technology stretches far beyond our ability to get to work on time, and into the realm of sustainability and livability. With more and more people moving to cities (or being born there), we are quickly in need of more resources in much smaller and more compact areas. Waze and Greenway demonstrate that by helping one another through information sharing and leveraging that information through technology, it can make all of us smarter, more effective and better global citizens. That being said, please keep both hands on the wheel at all times and your eyes on the road. None of this works effectively if we're all suddenly not paying attention to the road in front of us and causing more accidents and problems. What's your take: do you think apps like this are smart or a dangerous distraction? Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image -- an award-winning digital marketing agency. HIs first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his highly-successful blog and podcast of the same name is a business and marketing bestseller. His next book, CTRL ALT DEL, will be published in Spring 2013.