A Data Driven Partnership – Esri meet Waze, Waze meet Esri.
The Esri and Waze Collaboration
As a techie that works in local government, I love a good story, especially one of a partnership between a public sector and a private sector technology. Here we have Esri, a builder of the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analytics software, and Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Well, Esri isn’t exactly public sector technology but we, public sector engineers and managers, rely on it pretty heavily. Waze is a great app that I have personally used too. The drivers share real-time traffic and road info. This information, when used properly, saves me a lot of time and gas money on their daily commute. Waze has a slogan of. “Outsmarting Traffic, Together.”
Hands down, these are two leaders in their respective right. If I were to pick which leader is reaping the most from the partnership I would have to say local government. Together these two agencies formed the Connected Citizens Program which enables local governments to leverage Waze data. From the Waze app, cities get to-the-second information- e.g. road conditions, traffic congestion and motor vehicle accident trends. Local governments then funnel the aggregate data into their ArcGIS and map them. Esri is the technology provider of ArcGIS. According to Esri, “about 40,000 clients currently use the company’s database and mapping software, including ArcGIS, to manage a wide collection of city assets, ranging from sewers and electricity infrastructure to locations for planting trees.” One would think that 40,000 clients is a lot of people, and it is, but Waze currently has more than 65 million monthly active users worldwide. A majority of the people reside in medium/larger cities.
The next step, as far as local governments are concerned, is using the application to disseminate information. As an employee of a Public Works Department that handles natural disasters, I can’t wait for that day. Not only could we rely on the National Weather Service to reach people, we could get messages, pertinent messages, to people phones in a jiffy.
Local governments are using the traffic jams and alerts to help plan for future road widenings, find troubled intersections, and evaluate the layouts of existing intersections. Esri is making this an easy feat for local governments too. They are monitoring the data themselves and sending it directly to the local governments that already subscribe to their services. This technology is helping local government make long-term plans and also assisting small local governments in closing the technological gap that big cities are able to manage.
In all cases, local governments are able to meet the needs of their stakeholders better. They can heed their requests and input via the Waze app and make the necessary changes. Too often residents and stakeholders say that communicating with their governing agencies is difficult, that they don’t feel heard. Through this partnership, local governments can be more intuitive.
That said, I celebrate this glorious partnership and hope it continues to develop into a beautiful relationship.
Yours In Service,
Eric L. Marsh, MPA@UNC