Look for traffic information outside of major highways, and you’ll usually be out of luck, even though surface streets often seem to get clogged with cars just as much as highways. If you live in San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, or one of nine other major cities around the country, your local TV news station may actually be able to help—with a little help from crowdsourced traffic app Waze.
Waze first came to our attention for its beautiful maps of traffic in Los Angeles and around the world, as well as for its role this past summer in alleviating "Carmageddon"—the two-day event in Los Angeles when the 405 freeway shut down for construction, affecting 500,000 drivers. It was a time when traffic helicopters from local TV stations could do little but show how bad the situation was, while local drivers were left to look for workarounds outside of the 405. It made sense, then, that local news station KABC Channel 7 used Waze, which asks users to input real-time road reports in exchange for credit in the Waze community, for on-air updates about detours around the closure.
The move proved so successful that Waze soon had TV stations around the country banging down its door. "It’s not a distribution model that most app companies get," says Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski, Director of Communications at Waze. Over the coming weeks, 12 partner stations in the U.S. will begin to integrate Waze into their traffic reports, using driver reports to provide viewers with information about accidents and other road hazards (one driver accurately reported during Carmageddon that there was a sofa lying in the middle of the street).
Waze already has enough users—9 million worldwide and 3 million in the U.S.—to make its data both accurate and thorough. In the past three and a half weeks, the service gained one million new users. And in Los Angeles, home of Carmageddon, the app has grown to over 450,000 "Wazers."
A presence on the local news has undoubtedly grown Waze’s numbers, and in turn, the app makes TV traffic reports more relevant to drivers. And drivers? They don’t waste as much gas (or time) idling in traffic, whether on the highway or less-traveled city streets.