In this installment of Social Media 201, we will cover Waze, a dynamic, live traffic map. If you missed the 101 series, check out the archives. We covered the basics of each of the major social media networks and how they can be incorporated into a lawyer’s strategy for networking and connection with clients.
New Uses for “Social Media”
Waze is a combination of Google Maps, Foursquare’s Swarm App, and SigAlert. It shows you where you are as well as where you want to go (Google Maps), where other people are (Swarm), and what traffic is like along your route (SigAlert). It’s an innovative use of social media that allows you to broadcast your location (and the speed you’re traveling at) anonymously to help others find the fastest route.
Waze is available to logged-in users and anonymous users alike and as both a mobile and a desktop application so that you can take a look at traffic before you leave or put in your location and destination to get an idea of what route is suggested.
Waze analyzes traffic gleaned from users both passively and dynamically. It will analyze how fast each user is traveling along the suggested route to determine how quickly traffic is moving in real time. It also allows users to report things along their route: traffic slow-downs, accidents, hidden (or visible) police, construction—anything that will help other users along their way.
As you drive along, Waze will notify you of reported incidents along your way (a road closure, traffic camera, or vehicle stopped on the shoulder for example). These can be interacted with if they are no longer applicable by removing them from the map for future users. Alternately, you can validate that they are still present. (You can also just ignore them, but the more people contribute, the better the experience for everyone is.)
Including the Kitchen Sync!
In addition to allowing you to input your destination, Waze will synchronize to your contacts as well as to your calendar. Unfortunately, this feature is only available for verified accounts. You don’t have to log in to verify your account, only allow Waze to send information via your cell phone number. This allows you to send your ETA via text message. If the recipient has Waze installed on their device, they can click an app-link that will allow them to watch you get stuck in traffic on the 101 (scintillating!) and they’ll know when you park or stop for coffee.
If you’ve linked your cell phone number to Waze, when you open up the app and there’s an upcoming calendar event, Waze will ask you if that is your destination. One click later, you’re on your way. You can also search Waze using your contacts’ names—their work and home addresses will be read from your contacts app.
Finally, if you’re heading home in the evening, Waze usually assumes you’re going home, giving you another one-click means of getting where you’re trying to go while avoiding traffic. Strangely, this feature is not available in the morning for work.
Learn Secret Routes Around Your Neighborhood
Waze is useful for both veterans and newbies of navigating LA traffic. Everyone knows that sometimes Sepulveda is a better choice than the 405, but when? Waze will not only put you on those obvious secondary routes but also introduce you to new ones. It will also put you on the 405 against your better judgment when it actually will be faster than Sepulveda.
Do you have to get somewhere in the middle of rush hour? Are you on your way to a deposition at an office you’ve never been to before? Just trying to get home after a long day so you can have dinner and a glass of wine? Then Waze is for you—download it and fire it up the next time you get into your car. You won’t regret it.