Anyone who knows me will know I am a huge technology fan. Most of the podcasts I listen too/watch are technology related. My favourites are Leo Laporte’s TWIT Network, Cult of Mac, The iMore Show and BBC 5 Live Lets Talk About Tech.
I am also an owner of an iPhone & an iPad and every now and again I stumble across an App that blows me away.
As I have a strong interest in our community, I am particularly interested in technology that can impact on our lives in a positive way. I guess that is why I am such an advocate of social media. There are dozens of examples where social media has had a profoundly positive effect on lives of many in Surrey Heath therefore I am keen to exploit the opportunities that social media bring.
With all the development going on across Rushmoor, Runnymede & Surrey Heath in the near future, one of the main concerns of local residents is traffic & highways infrastructure. Our roads are already heavily congested so is there anything that technology can do to help? I don’t think technology alone could sort out our traffic issues but there is an app I recently discovered for my iPhone and have been trailing. I think if enough local residents used this app it could make life in our vehicles a little more tolerable.
Waze is an app which is completely free. The strap line for Waze is “Outsmarting Traffic Together”.
This brilliant app is a GPS Navigation tool, that has a social media element built in. The GPS part of the app has accurate turn by turn navigation just like a bespoke SatNav such as TomTom but on the map you will see other Waze users.
The real clever part of this technology is that it uses ‘crowdsourcing‘ to advise uses where traffic, hazards, speed cameras and police traps are.
Even more impressive, the app knows what speed you are travelling at and what the speed of the road you are travelling on should be. When there are several Waze users on a road where the speed should be 30mph (for example) but they are only travelling at 5mph or stationary, the app knows there is congestion. Combined with data actually reported by users makes the information seriously accurate. So when you set off to work in the morning you can see if there is any traffic on your route and if there is you can re-route around the traffic. The really clever bit is you can communicate with other Waze users as they are shown on the map and you can ask them what is going on. This is especially useful if there is traffic all around a certain area and you want to decide if to set off later or take a completely different route. This accurate information provided is given well in advance of TA on your Radio.
I have found that the chat element is not really necessary because when users report hazards, traffic or other useful information, there is a feature that lets you provide more detailed information, and most people add to this. They can even add images, audio. When you plot a route, WAZE knows if there is a hazzard, traffic or even police traps on your route.
Users are awarded points if they provide information that is useful to other Waze users and there are all sorts of rewards that can be redeemed against those points. I guess this encourages users to use the app as often as possible and so maximising its effectiveness.
There are way to many features on this incredibly brilliant app to mention here but I would recommend residents with smart phones give it a go. It is available on iOS and Android devices.
There are already lots of residents in Surrey Heath using the App which makes it very useful from the off but if more residents used it I think in a lot of cases we could “Outsmart traffic together”.
The app plugs into Facebook so it will find your friends who use the app. Also you can plug it into your twitter account so when you report hazards, traffic or other issues through the app, it automatically updates your twitter feed so that your twitter followers can benefit from the information.
I think the only downside of Waze is that it will make your expensive SatNav device more or less redundant.
For more info on Waze visit their web site at www.waze.com