Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].
Waze today announced “Connected Citizens,” a new government partnership program that will see both parties exchange data in order to improve traffic conditions.
For the program, Waze will provide real-time anonymized crowdsourced traffic data to government departments in exchange for information on public projects like construction, road sensors, and pre-planned road closures.
The first 10 partners include:
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Barcelona, Spain and the Government of Catalonia
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- San Jose, Costa Rica
- Boston, USA
- State of Florida, USA
- State of Utah, USA
- Los Angeles County
- The New York Police Department (NYPD)
Waze has also signed on five other government partners and has received applications from more than 80 municipal groups. The company ran an initial pilot program in Rio de Janeiro where it partnered with the city’s traffic control center to supplement the department’s sensor data with reports from Waze users.
At an event celebrating the launch, Di-Ann Eisnor, head of Growth at Waze noted that the data exchange will only include public alerts, such as accidents and closures.
“We don’t share anything beyond that, such as where individuals are located and who they are,” she said.
Eisnor also made it clear that Waze isn’t selling the data. GPS maker TomTom came under fire several years ago after customers learned that the company had sold their data to police departments to help find the best places to put speed traps.
“We keep [the data] clean by making sure we don’t have a business model around it,” Eisnor added.
Waze will requires that new Connected Citizens partners “prove their dedication to citizen engagement and commit to use Waze data to improve city efficiency.”
One of the original inspirations for the Connected Citizens program was an impromptu initiative during Hurricane Sandy. After the White House called Waze to get crowdsourced information about which gas stations were open, the company realized that it could do more than just help out with users’ daily commutes.
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