Massachusetts joins Waze program and Los Angeles trials hyperlocal feature

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As part of a new data-sharing partnership, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will be using crowd-sourced information to provide motorists with real-time traffic conditions across the state.

The agency has joined the Waze Connected Citizens Program, which is a free, two-way data share of publicly available, crowd-sourced traffic information from the real-time navigation application for smartphones. Under the program, Waze provides MassDOT with real-time, anonymous, user-generated incident and motorist slow-down information, and in exchange, MassDOT provides real-time government-reported construction, crash and road closure data to Waze and its network of users.

The data-sharing partnership also allows MassDOT to compile historical data that can be used for future roadway planning and projects. The Connected Citizens Program has more than 70 other partners around the world, including the Massachusetts state capital, Boston. According to Waze, Boston has more than 709,000 monthly active users who drive a collective 172,000,000 miles (277,000,000 km) with the app switched on each month. These users actively report per month more than 1 million alerts, such as potholes, traffic congestion and crashes.

“With the addition of MassDOT in our Connected Citizens Program, Waze and MassDOT are empowering Massachusetts drivers with real-time data on changing road conditions, and closures directly from MassDOT,” said Paige Fitzgerald, Waze Connected Citizens program manager. “Building on the success we have had partnering with the City of Boston and other Massachusetts municipalities, we are excited to extend this data exchange to MassDOT, in order to further optimize local driving experiences statewide.”

Waze has launched a new feature for drivers in one of its other Program partners, Los Angeles, which aims to solve a hyperlocal traffic challenge. The ‘Difficult Intersections’ feature helps drivers navigate away from having to make stressful left turns from side streets onto a multi-lane highways, often without a traffic light to aid them. The feature is designed to balance an efficient ETA (estimated time of arrival), with limiting as many of the difficult intersections as possible. By default, Waze will calculate the best possible route that bypasses a difficult intersection, although when the detour route is significantly longer, a driver may still be routed through a difficult intersection. The goal of the feature is to reduce the amount of these intersections, not completely eliminate them.

The Difficult Intersections setting is automatically enabled for LA drivers, however, Wazers who prefer to drive through all intersections can easily disable the feature. To identify which intersections in the city cause drivers the most problems, Waze worked closely with its local map editor and employee community. They shared lists of what they perceived to be the most difficult intersections and provided alternate solutions.

The company also received a large amount of support from its Connected Citizens partner, the City of Los Angeles, which helped the Waze team understand the hyperlocal challenge from a municipal perspective. The feature is currently only available in Los Angeles, but Waze says it will expand to New Orleans soon, and globally as needs are identified by the Wazing community.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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