How Apps Distract the Driver From Driving

The company known as Waze is known for having a mobile application that works as a GPS or global positioning system. Waze was founded in Israel in the year 2006 under the name FreeMap Israel by Ehub Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine. The start of FreeMap Israel was a community project that was geared towards being an app based on crowdsourcing data from users and having real time traffic updates. In 2008 the company was given the name Waze to be commercialized and would later be turned into Waze Mobile Ltd.

in 2009. This app was heavily developed and fine-tuned for years before expanding outside of Israel and into other countries. By December of 2011, Waze had a total of employees. This was divided in a way that 70 employees were in Israel, and 10 were in the United States (California). Today, Waze has over 100 million people using their application in over 50 countries.

It is important to note that Google bought Waze in 2013 for a total of 6 million.

In their quarterly report ending June 30, 2013 to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on, page 18 under their Note 6 Acquisitions, it says “In June 2013, we completed our acquisition of Waze Limited (Waze), a provider of a mobile map application which provides turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates powered by incidents and route information submitted by a community of users, for a total cash consideration of $966 million. The acquisition is expected to enhance our customer’s user experience by offering real time traffic information to users’ daily navigation needs. The fair value of assets acquired, and liabilities assumed was based on a preliminary valuation and our estimates and assumptions are subject to change within the measurement period.

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The primary areas of the purchase price that are not yet finalized are related to the fair values of intangible assets acquired, certain income taxes and residual goodwill. Of the total purchase price, $847 million was attributed to goodwill and $188 million was attributed to intangible assets. This was offset by $69 million of other net liabilities assumed.” This statement leads directly into what Waze is all about.

The application is used by a mass amount of people in order to find their destination or find a quicker route to their destination. Waze allows the user to not only know an estimated time of arrival but it shows the user what to expect when they head out onto the road. This is done by the crowdsourcing method mentioned above. Every time a user sees police activity, accidents, road hazards, traffic jams, and other necessary information to keep you in the loop while driving, they can share that information and it will be readily available for everyone to see. Not only does it allow for user sharing for things that would slow down a user’s ride, but it also has features that allow you to find the nearest gas stations and even compare gas prices.

It will show you how much it will affect your current drive time and will put you right back on track to your original route when you are finished. The next great feature that it has is the ability to find various other important locations. This list includes parking, hospitals, food, grocery stores, hotels, and many more, so if a user needs to find the location for something they want or need, it is at their fingertips. Another important area of the applications is the community edited maps. So, just as incidents are reported, maps issues can be reported, and they can be changed by people in your area. All this information about the applications functionality comes directly from personal experience as an everyday user.

There is an exponential amount of strengths that come along with a mobile application such as Waze. The power of being able to find the best route to your destination every time you are going is the main strength. This set up allows a user to fight traffic and show them places they never thought would take them to where they needed to go. One unknown side road can make a huge difference on an everyday traffic filled commute. To start off, the idea of changing your route while you are in the middle of driving because the application detected a slowdown is a feature different from all the other GPS applications. The other two large mapping services that would compete with Waze is Google Maps and the Maps application on apple devices. All applications have the same basic purpose with getting the user where they need to go, but where Waze has the clear advantage is all the other features in the application that no other maps would have.

To get into the deeper strengths of Waze, there is an academic journal from the Transportation Research Record (TRR) 1-10 of the National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2018. The entire basis and purpose of this article can be found in the title; “Evaluating the Reliability, Coverage, and Added Value of Crowdsourced Traffic Incident Reports from Waze.” It is said that Waze provides extra information and help to the advanced traffic management system or ATMS. The Waze application makes a more flexible data evaluation process when being added to the data of the ATMS. With that information, many states use crowdsourced information with their own ATMS and with their individual departments of transportation (DOT). There was research done with Iowa’s department of transportation and their ATMS along with Waze and the crowdsourced data, and it was found that Waze was invaluable information when being compared to advanced data, which will be explained in more detail in the weaknesses section coming up. With saying that, the article mentioned that the free cost of the Waze application it would be a worthwhile use of their resources to use Waze over installing intricate and expensive means of data collection when there will be overlapping and flaws in each.

More discussion can go into the cost of Waze in relation to its mass number of features and easy usability. Just as state transportation departments use this for additional data collection, the average person can save tons of money by using this application over a GPS device made from a company like Garmin. With the free price tag, advertisements do come, but it is usually advertisements that would be beneficial, such as recommending a sale or special at a place like Wawa for “Hoagie fest” or any other special event. Another strength is that Waze offers an option to have your home address and work address stored in a very accessible location in order to give quick access to this information no matter where a person is. There is no need to have to type in an address repeatedly when it can be right where you can find it. In addition, Waze saves all your recent trips, so if you need to go to a certain location more than once and do not know the way, it cuts down on time and energy.

Waze added a social aspect to give itself a competitive advantage over some of its opposing GPS application. It allows you to connect to Facebook, which connects you to other friends using the application as well as connecting you to events that you plan to attend that are posted on Facebook (Baden-Fuller & Haefliger, 2013). This aspect can connect with saved recent history as well as the home and work button as it is a click and go process. One of the cooler aspects is the Waze point system. Every time you report something, whether it be traffic or an accident, you will get six points. Points add up and you can “level up” to different levels. The biggest social strength in Waze is the ability to let your friends know you are safe and to keep track of each other each trip to make sure you are all safe and where you need to be.

There are many weaknesses when it comes the Waze application as a whole. The most noticeable weakness is that not everyone reports when something occurs. Since the only way that the application knows that there is a hazard, accident, or even a police officer ahead, is through the crowdsourcing. Individuals reporting are what makes the application work as it is supposed to. Another aspect of this, is the delayed reporting of an incident. Since most people will see events real time, it is hard to report something without a passenger to type for you. In the article mentioned above from the Transportation Research Record, there is usually a 30 second delay in reporting, which usually equates to about half of a mile. At that point, an accident or police officer would not be known until the actual person sees it themselves and not on the application itself, or it will say that the hazard is coming up when it is right in front of you.

Another major weakness comes with all of the additional features inside of the application. In high traffic or city areas, there are a ton of reports which is good, but there are also a ton of advertisements and other friends or Waze users showing up on the screen, which can be a major distraction. With laws that are in place to stop distracted driving, this could be a problem. Also, all of these features running at the same time require a large amount of battery, so if your phone is not plugged in, it will die quickly, and the user will most likely be unhappy with the result. This would also mean that a user with little battery and no charger could have their phone turn off and not know where they are. The user also has to think about connection when running an application like this. You must have data or an internet connection in order to even start up the application and allow it to find the best route for you. This is where a regular GPS would be best, if there is connection issues. But, if you are in an area with bad reception and no internet access, Waze cannot find your location, which would mean you would have to find another way to your destination until you reach somewhere with internet. With all of the strengths and weaknesses, comes great opportunity for improvement and advancement.

A great opportunity that Waze has already started getting involved in is a carpooling feature. This allows people going to the same place or in the same area to save money and gas and go together, which will also help the environment. Through my own researching and navigation throughout the mobile application I have found it is very simple to set up your carpool profile. You can set your home address, school address, and work address, while no one will see those addresses, it still sets up so that people in the carpool will be those on your route. It is a good way to help others save money as well as helping the driver get some extra cash.

The next opportunity that Waze has is to make contributions to local communities to help with traffic problems. One specific example is a case study done in Ghent, Belgium. The plan in this case study was to reduce traffic in the Ghent City center, and in the exact words from the study website “The goal: to cut off all main arteries going through the city center to reduce car traffic by 40%.” That is no small task to accomplish, and it took a great amount of effort and time by the local Waze editors in that area. What they did to accomplish this task was permanently closing 14 roads, changing driving directions in around 88 different streets, changing 1,800 traffic signs, adding five pedestrian areas, and installing 35 license plate recognition cameras.

With all of that being done, statistics showed that there were 30% less accidents, 15% more bus and tram users, and 27% more cyclists, all of which shows positive change in helping the environment. Since all of these changes were made with the help of Waze editors, it made Waze 100% accurate from the start, putting itself ahead of other companies. This case is not the only one of its kind. In the case studies area of the official Waze website where the above study was located, there are a large number of examples just like this one that show just the kind of impact that Waze is making on communities across the world. Just as stated above in the strengths and weaknesses categories, some states are using Waze data within their transportation departments along with the ATMS. The continued growth and development could encourage Waze to work with governments in order to create safer traveling with all of the opportunities involved with the Waze application there are some threats that come along.

Some threats that come along with Waze is the obvious personal information security, and the risk of your device getting hacked. Waze is constantly tracking where you are and when for the best results and all that information is stored somewhere. One wrong move and a user can accidentally share all their personal information with the wrong person. Some other smaller and possibly fewer devastating threats are the blocking and jamming of the GPS. You will possibly recognize blocking or jamming because of the loss of signal on the GPS. Another less obvious threat is GPS spoofing. Spoofing as told in the Homeland Security Journal is used “to feed the receiver false information so that it computes an erroneous time or location.” (Warner & Johnston, 2003) Essentially spoofing is acting as something that it is not to steal your information. Due to the age of the article, much more research has come about that tells you how to prevent spoofing in many forms including this GPS spoofing. This GPS spoofing can lead you to places that were not intended and can be very dangerous to the user if it is not caught soon enough. Just like anything else, Waze does not have a perfect security. Even if it is very difficult, someone will find a way into your personal application if they really want to.

Overall the Waze Mobile application is a very advanced application and regardless of the weaknesses that it presents, which are not things that users have to worry about most of the time, the strengths outweigh the bad. Most of the weaknesses would probably only bother the average user every so often, and for an average user like myself, I have rarely experienced any of these problems presented. Throughout my research for this analysis, I found a lot of new and interesting information. The average person would not know that Waze started in Israel about 12 years ago and that Google bought it for nearly one billion dollars. The connectivity of the application and its ability to warn you of dangers ahead, even if not 100% reported or accurate, is still miles ahead of any other GPS out there simply for the fact of the community working together to crowdsource all of the data. With any technology, there will be threats of hacking and there will be trial and error when it comes to protecting your personal information.

In 2018, most tech savvy people will know how to prevent this, and they will help those who do not understand just yet. I see the Waze application building on what it has already and further expanding in the future. The possibilities for an interactive GPS are infinite, and with the introduction of carpooling to the app recently, Waze is only showing that they’re not afraid of advancement and change. As any big technological company should, I believe they will keep expanding to help your everyday commute one step at a time. Not many people know about this application now, but when most people do, I believe it will take off that much more. The amount of computer-based jobs that it can provide in the industry as it expands will only keep increasing.

A job that a Towson University student could apply for upon graduating with a degree in computer science is a software engineer/ site reliability engineering for Waze. The minimum qualifications for this job are a BS degree in Computer Science or related technical field involving coding (e.g., physics or mathematics), or equivalent practical experience, experience with algorithms, data structures, complexity analysis and software design, and experience in one or more of the following programs:

  • C, C++,
  • Java,
  • Python,
  • Go,
  • Perl or
  • Ruby

Anyone graduating from Towson University with a computer science major will have gotten at least the minimum requirements for this job listing. Another thing to mention is that Waze is owned by Google, which means that you would effectively be working for Google and their great employee-oriented work environment. With the minimum requirements met, I also know some Towson University students would be able to impress Google with many of their other accomplishments outside of just their programming knowledge that would make them a very good member of the Google/Waze team.

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How Apps Distract the Driver From Driving. (2022, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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