SECTIONS - Making Connections
June 08, 2015

App Is Good, But Has a Waze to Go


Let me start by saying that there are exceptions to what I am about to discuss below but generally speaking, inter-app connectivity is lacking. The real power of technology is harnessing big data from multiple sources – the so-called mashup.

We have come a long way, and there is so much potential to leverage technology to further improve the world. Here are some of my thoughts on cooperation I’d like to see.

GPS Apps Need to Talk with Fitness Apps and Devices
Some time back, here in Connecticut, we had a nice warm day in what was normally cold weather. As you would expect the bike riders were out in full force around the heavily wooded winding roads near my house. Of course it was dark out, making these people almost impossible to see at a distance. Using Waze, I am aware of police cars, road hazards, vehicles stopped on the shoulder, and much more. But why is there no integration between Waze and the apps and wearable tech the runners and bikers use? It is much more useful to know about an upcoming jogger around a blind curve than a car stalled on a straight highway such as Interstate 95.

GPS Apps Need to Talk with Municipalities
On another occasion I was in a haze – I couldn’t think clearly. Not sure why. Allergies perhaps? Suffice it to say I was packing for a trip, but I kept leaving things in my office. All told I had to return to work three times to get things I forgot. Yes, I am embarrassed. Anyway, I used Waze each time to map out the best route, and each time it took me the same way. I literally flew back and forth (keeping it within the legal limit of course officer). The third time I left to get to the office, I hit traffic. The state decided to close a lane. Massive traffic and delays ensued.

The point is, Waze didn’t know about the lane closure. Why? Isn’t it simple to connect computer systems? Yes. Moreover, a few times I reported accidents via Waze and then had to call 911 to tell the police. Why? No clue why these systems aren’t integrated.

Slow, Steady Progress
There is good news. Uber said recently it will provide the city of Boston with anonymized information about rides on the carhailing service in the hopes it will help ease traffic congestion and lead to smarter city planning. Rio de Janeiro is working with Waze for cars, Moovit for mass transit, and cycling app Strava to monitor how people get through the city. Waze is also working with Florida and other areas. As a result, the apps have access to municipal information helping their users and the cities and states get access to the rich app traffic data – in an anonymized fashion according to software vendors.

These are positive first steps, but we need much more. In a perfect world, drivers would always know when there are pedestrians and bikers nearby. Baby strollers would flash red on your map. Kids playing in the street would also have a special alert as would lemonade stands, etc. Navigation apps would know in advance that a highway crew was going to start working at a certain hour and route cars more efficiently around such obstacles beforehand. In addition, municipalities could help prioritize pothole repair based upon the traffic on various roads. Using accident data, apps could alert drivers to potential hazards such as blind corners, icy bridges, roads which tend to amass wet leaves, etc. Many of us can’t live without navigation apps today and if we get this interconnectivity thing nailed, we soon won’t know how we lived without all the new information at our fingertips.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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