You don’t hear that phrase "Traffic is Awesome" stated very often. However, the opportunity for crowdsourcing to have a huge impact on traffic and the way in which we navigate through it is immense. By definition, traffic affects a large group of people. Thus, if you could tap into what members of the group are experiencing, you can accurately map and track traffic conditions. This is a natural application of crowdsourcing.
Up until a few years ago, people would report on what they are experiencing on the road by calling in to radio stations, who would aggregate these reports. Now that we have smart phones, we are able to report back on how traffic is affecting us AND get reports back directly.
The question is: how do you get feedback from people experiencing traffic? This ties in to my previous blog post on Passive vs. Active crowdsourcing.
Google Maps on your mobile phone collects information about where you are and what your speed is, and aggregates it automatically to provide users with a current traffic map. In this sense, Google is using passive crowdsourcing (where users do not have to actively contribute information). However, only users that have the Maps application open & with certain settings enabled are contributing to the traffic map. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the Google Maps navigation map open during their daily commute, a simple reality.
Waze, on the other hand, is a social navigation application that encourages its community to submit reports from the road. Users can indicate the presence of an accident, traffic jam, road block, or even a police speed trap.
Furthermore, by building in fun features, they are able to get users to keep their application open longer, which allows Waze to collect more passively crowdsourced information. Waze just announced that they have grown to 20 million users (in only six months), presumably concentrated around metropolitan areas where the application has maximal utility. Check out the video to learn more about what the app offers:
What are your thoughts? What do you see the future of crowdsourcing (passive or not) to be? Let us know in the comments below.