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Adjusting To Mobility In The New Normal With Waze For Cities

Waze for Cities – a two-way data share of publicly available information that utilizes mobile technology and crowdsourced traffic data accessible via Google Cloud

Photo by Alehandrew Michael on Unsplash

By Dani Simons, Head of Waze Public Sector

After months of staying home, Indonesians are getting back on the road as the country transitions  into the new normal. With businesses suspending their work-from-home policies, many  employees have returned to the daily commute, causing a spike in traffic across many cities  including Jakarta. However, traffic control systems in these cities are fairly limited, making it  difficult for authorities to thoroughly manage traffic in their respective areas. Officers are deployed  on foot, monitoring traffic by checking road footage and calculating the volume of vehicles.  

Leveraging Data for Mobility Solutions 

As a community-based navigation platform, Waze offers many solutions that are designed to  outsmart traffic. One such program is Waze for Cities – a two-way data share of publicly available  information that utilizes mobile technology and crowdsourced traffic data accessible via Google  Cloud. The free program pulls real-time, anonymous incidents and slow-down information directly  from driver reports to help municipalities and first responders improve their existing city  infrastructure. 

Supporting nearly 1,800 global partners, Waze for Cities data can be used to track and analyze  patterns in municipalities with the highest traffic jams. After identifying the traffic patterns and  behaviours, partners can act on their policies and better manage traffic in their cities.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected numerous aspects of our lives and forced us to adjust our  regular behaviors to fit the new normal – and the way we travel is no exception. By providing real time insights on what is happening on the road, as well as information on road closures in  neighborhoods, Waze can help authorities find better concrete solutions to adapt to the current  mobility patterns. 

Assisting Authorities in Mitigating Challenges  

Both Jakarta Smart City and Jabar Digital Service are two examples of partners that leveraged  Waze for Cities data to understand and measure the success of their traffic policies. When  COVID-19 originally struck in March, Jabar Digital Service, a Service Centre of Digital, Data, and  Geospatial Information operating under the West Java Government, employed Waze data to  gauge the PSBB policy’s success in Bandung, West Java. The program was activated to

determine the policy’s impact and track community compliance and results were presented to the  respective Regents/Mayors. 

Meanwhile, Jakarta Smart City (JSC), which operates under the Jakarta government, used  Waze’s real-time driver insights to evaluate Jakarta’s odd-even traffic policy, observe the  Department of Transportation’s semi-automation of traffic jam points and locate routes that are  not covered by the MRT network. JSC identified and recommended areas that TransJakarta or  other public transportation systems need to reach, optimizing safe public transport options during  the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, our data insights provided both partners with an imperative  resource, enabling them to manage congestion as they received information on the increase and  decrease in ongoing traffic trends. 

Supporting Cities in Times of Crisis  

Beyond local initiatives, we’ve enacted global responses to help municipalities react fast to the  spread of the pandemic. With movement restriction measures now put in place worldwide, Waze  for Cities – through its Crisis Response team – has helped numerous cities across the US, Brazil  and Asia overcome unforeseen situations. For instance, we launched a COVID-19 Landing Page  asking governments around the world to contribute data on medical testing center and emergency  food distribution center locations to help improve our maps for users. 

Today, our team of Map Editors supports over 70 countries – including Indonesia – to provide  information on region-specific relief efforts on the app, such as road closures, red zones, testing  centers, and locations to find emergency food resources. Over 130 referral hospitals in Indonesia  have been added to the Waze map, which can be found by typing several keywords, such as  “COVID”, “covid”, “coronavirus”, “corona virus”, and “rumah sakit corona” in the destination search  bar.  

In just under a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended almost every aspect of our lives. With  a world in flux, residents need regular, up to date information from their governments and  businesses to understand the status of their local routes and favorite local businesses. By  continually empowering our partners with powerful data insights, Waze hopes to remain at the  forefront of vital crisis response methods while helping pave the road to recovery.

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