- Navigation app Waze and location intelligence firm Esri will offer real-time traffic information to cities for free through the Waze Connected Citizens Program, expanding on a prior partnership. The data will be available in Esri’s ArcGIS Marketplace, which allows cities to use it without purchasing additional software or writing code.
- The partnership will allow cities to see in real time the same data Waze users collect and share, including congestion, accidents and road conditions, which the companies say will allow leaders to make better and quicker decisions.
- "The Waze Connected Citizens Program is all about removing any barriers to innovation," said Adam Fried, Waze Global Partnerships manager, in a statement. "Now, with just a couple of clicks, a city can easily access and analyze Waze data within Esri ArcGIS and use those insights to improve roadway management and build safer roads for its citizens."
The announcement builds on a previous partnership between Esri and Waze, where the two firms set up a two-way data share with cities. That way, not only could Waze offer traffic information to cities, but traffic agencies could let the app know about planned road work and closures. According to TechCrunch, 700 cities are already part of the Connected Citizens Program, with more coming in each day. The latest development will make it even easier for cities to crunch Waze’s data.
Cities have plenty of information on their road conditions, especially with drones and smaller cameras making it easier to see a wide scope of infrastructure conditions. But the data from tech firms adds yet another powerful tool. Uber, for example, has offered data on traffic and mobility demands to cities through its Uber Movement program. In a Medium post, Uber described how its insights could help London determine the impact of closures on the city’s Tower Bridge, showing the "cascading effects ... on London’s entire transportation grid."
Security and privacy concerns remain a barrier for some governments to embrace data from private partners, although Waze and Uber promise they have anonymized the data and are presenting it in bulk.
In an opinion post for Smart Cities Dive, Johan Herrlin, CEO of ITO World, said open data is key to ensuring all forms of transportation work for all residents and tourists of a city. Herrlin wrote that a goal of "Mobility as a Service," or a move away from private ownership of vehicles, "could solve today’s issues of traffic and congestion by changing the way people and goods travel, but it can only truly be realized through access to high-quality, real-time transit data that seamlessly reflects the customer experience."