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Social mapping and navigation company Waze is partnering with 12 local broadcast stations including KGO-TV San Francisco, KABC Los Angeles, WFAA Dallas, and WPVI-TV Philadelphia, to bring its citizen-traffic reporting platform mainstream.
Founded in 2009, Waze offers free apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms, that include turn-by-turn navigation for drivers, and at the same time, uses that user data to build out its own maps. If there are issues on the road, such as major traffic jams, all of that information comes in through the apps and can be sent to other drivers.
The apps rely on crowdsourced data, from driver-created maps, to citizen traffic reports, to community-curated points of interest. On average, Waze users are reporting a traffic jam every 4.2 second, and an accident every 44 seconds. With millions of users, that’s a massive amount of data.
Traffic reporters are using Waze to display real-time road conditions and reports on highways and surface streets from drivers on the road, from the convenience of an iPad in the studio. In Los Angeles, home to more than 450,000 “wazers”, the ABC7 Traffic Spotters group already has nearly 3,400 active members, all participating for daily chances to have their report shown on live on TV. In turn, Waze gives broadcasters and their audiences insight into accurate traffic conditions on almost every route imaginable.
Waze faces competition from Google with respect to Android device navigation functionality, but the startup brings this technology to a number of mobile platforms and has landed impressive partnerships. Waze recently raised $30 million in new funding from Horizons Ventures Hong Kong (the fund that manages the private venture investments of Facebook investor Li Ka-shing), and the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Digital Growth Fund and iFund.
Thanks to its popular crowdsourced navigation app, Waze is sitting on a pile of valuable traffic data. Today the company announced an intriguing use for that data goldmine: powering your local TV station’s traffic reports.
Waze is launching a program to let any broadcast network take advantage of its citizen traffic data, which gives networks access to instant updates about traffic conditions. The company has partnered with 12 launch stations, which have been featuring Waze’s data in their traffic reports for months, including KABC Los Angeles, KGO-TV San Francisco, and KFAA Dallas.
Waze’s free apps, which are available on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian phones, offers free turn-by-turn directions. But Waze’s true value is in the vast amount of live traffic data. Powered entirely by its users, the crowdsourced data makes Waze a far more useful alternative to standalone GPS units.
“We’re thrilled to officially offer up our citizen traffic reporting to broadcasters,” Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze vice president of partnerships and platforms, said in a statement today. “We’re learning that the best local stations work at startup speed, so we can get each station up and running seamlessly in just under a week.”
Waze says it’s providing tools specifically for broadcast stations, including the ability to create branded commuter groups within its apps. This lets broadcasters directly communicate with their viewers, allowing for things like contests to choose a specific user’s traffic report. Waze says that ABC7 in Los Angeles has nearly 3,400 active members in its commuter group. While on-air, traffic reporters use an iPad to get access to Waze’s live data.
The company also announced that its apps are now being used by over 9 million commuters. That’s a jump of 2 million users since October, when Waze announced it raised an additional $30 million in funding. Clearly, the company has been growing like wildfire over the past few years, and this jump to powering TV traffic reports will only further its popularity among mainstream users. Once viewers see what Waze’s free apps can offer, they’ll have a hard time resisting the siren call.
Waze is based in Palo Alto, Calif., and has raised over $55 million thus far.