Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

Waze Wins with Traffic Porn

by Roger Lanctot | 9月 28, 2020

There are two killer apps in the connected car: Traffic and First Notice of Loss. Accurate traffic predictions are essential to routing. First notice of loss represents a potential pot of gold in avoided expenses or captured revenue.

A battle has long been waged in the automotive industry and transportation community with more than a little interest from the insurance industry, to speed the reporting of traffic crashes for both emergency responders and insurers. Insurance companies want this information to be at the head of the line to repair or replace the injured vehicle and see to the welfare of driver and passengers. For the emergency response community, this priceless information can be life-saving.

In a week when RapidSOS announced its collaboration with SiriusXM to speed the communication of vital crash information directly to public service access points and RapidDeploy announced at Response 2020 a major expansion of its open and integrated emergency response platform, Waze held its Waze On user and partner event to announce multiple platform enhancements. 

While Waze’s advance into crash reporting was not a headline element of the Waze On event, the company has been quietly collaborating with individual emergency response agencies to integrate its user reported content. Innovative agencies such as North Central Texas 9-1-1 have reported that – since partnering with Waze in mid-2019 - 40% of the time, Waze traffic incident reports arrive five minutes faster than reports from 911 callers.

The developments from RapidSOS and RapidDeploy are likely to narrow though not completely negate that reporting advantage. Waze is likely to remain a valuable supplement to traffic reporting for public authorities – especially since Waze often reports incidents that go unreported by other sources. Connected cars, which have built-in cellular connectivity, may one day render Waze traffic incident reporting moot, but for now the Waze app is highly relevant.

Waze has the added advantage of sharing traffic incident information directly with its 130M users worldwide – at least 50,000 of whom are active reporters of roadway hazards. While connected car platform players like General Motors’ OnStar and SiriusXM (with RapidSOS) may speed direct reporting of crash data including vehicle identification, location, crash severity, and driver medical information and emergency contacts, not all connected car systems today are provisioned and functioning.

For the foreseeable future Waze will have the advantage of operating on the user’s smartphone. Of course, Waze incident reporting is like the Blanche Dubois of highway safety – incident reports are contingent upon the kindness of strangers. (With apologies to Tennessee Williams.)

But the crowdsourcing of traffic incident information – something that NCT 9-1-1 in Texas has found to be extremely useful – is not enabled on connected car platforms due to privacy concerns. Your connected car may report your crash to emergency responders automatically – but the information is not used to enhance traffic and routing information. 

Traffic data apps – other than Waze – are dependent upon measuring the secondary impacts of events. Building their models, as they do, upon a combination of incident reporting and traffic flow (derived from vehicle “probe” data) traffic data providers are at a de facto disadvantage to Waze given Waze’s extensive reporting network. Of course, Waze competitors will now be receiving incident data indirectly from Waze itself.

(It is worth noting that innovative work has been done by traffic camera companies such as TrafficLand to identify incidents from traffic camera feeds – but those applications are still in development and not deployed. Efforts have also been made by multiple app developers – including call center provider Agero – to derive crash detection information from smartphone apps without much success.)

The developments this week from SiriusXM and RapidSOS and RapidDeploy represent a breakthrough in connected car technology whereby urgent information from crash scenes is communicated directly to emergency responders for the first time. (Until now, only Ford Motor Company offered this capability via its 911 Assist smartphone-based application and a tight vehicle data integration.) While OnStar and similar applications, such as BMW Assist, will still call manned response centers that will connect to 911 responders – OnStar will now simultaneously report vehicle crash data directly speeding the emergency response.

As for communicating road hazards in real time to road users, the driving public will have to wait for the wider deployment of V2X technology. The onset of V2X will enable connected vehicles to report crashes directly to both emergency responders and other road users in real-time – saving time and lives simultaneously for responders and fellow road users.

For now, Waze will prevail with its road hazard porn politely violating your privacy should a Waze correspondent happen to drive by your crash scene. It might save you time or it might save your life but it won’t protect your dignity. For better or worse all users in the vicinity will be availed of your mishap – without identifying you personally, of course.

Previous Post: Google Tackles Quarantine Quandary

Let's talk

Now you know a little about us, get in touch and tell us what your business problem is.
Name:
Email:
Telephone:
Country:
Inquiry / Message: