Cities may benefit from Waze, Esri partnership expansion

Cities using Esri products may benefit from the expansion of the geographic information system software company’s partnership with crowdsourced navigation app Waze. Waze’s real-time traffic and infrastructure data will be available on Esri’s ArcGIS Marketplace free for members of the Waze Connected Citizens Program.

Thousands of cities have been using Esri technology to manage road closures for the past few years, Andrew Stauffer,manager of civic technology at Esri, said during an interview with SmartBrief. The wealth of information provided by Waze channeled through Esri’s mapping and spatial analytics technology could help cities more effectively manage infrastructure challenges in the 21st century.

Governments can participate in the Connected Citizens Program to receive information about traffic and road conditions in their area in real time, data which can greatly improve infrastructure planning and problem management. 

"Municipalities [already using Esri] can now leverage near up-to-the-minute reports without having to write code or purchase additional software," according to Stauffer. “Mapped Waze data is available immediately in all ArcGIS apps, where traffic engineers and even city planners can use it to maintain and build safer, more efficient transportation systems."

“Now, with just a couple of clicks, a city can easily access and analyze Waze data within Esri ArcGIS and use those insights to improve roadway management and build safer roads for its citizens,” Waze Global Partnerships Manager Adam Fried said in a statement. In a later interview, Fried added that Waze was “focused on removing barriers to innovation in the public sector” by providing its data to municipalities through a software many of them already patronize.

For example, Fried says Los Angeles used the partnership’s technology last year to map pothole reports across the city and found that the greatest density of reports were in low-income areas. This resulted in a new repaving plan. Stauffer added that the town of John’s Creek, Ga., greatly increased its number of listed points of interest on Waze via Esri technology in an effort to cultivate economic development.

Within the next week, a two-way data exchange between citizens and municipalities using the Connected Citizens Program will begin. Citizens will be able to report road and traffic problems through Waze, and government employees will be able to analyze and address that information using an Esri’s ArcGIS software.

“This is a big step forward for improving communication between city government and its citizens,” said Fried.

Early adopter: Raleigh, N.C.

Four months ago Raleigh, N.C. adopted the Connected Citizens Program technology early in conjunction with Cityworks software, allowing the more than 50 million Waze users in the city to file problems such as potholes, fallen trees and missing signs as public works service requests. The government can access and process those requests via Esri’s ArcGIS and Cityworks software.

“Engaging with citizens is a high priority,” said City of Raleigh GIS and Engagement Tech manager Jim Alberque in an interview. He said that using non-traditional mechanisms like smart assistants and third-party applications for feedback data has enormous potential.

Of the Waze and Esri partnership, Alberque said his city now has access to “a treasure trove of data” that could provide insight into traffic issues and help government officials make policy and planning decisions. This data, he said, would be very expensive for for the city to collect and leverage independently.

In the near future, participating city governments like Raleigh will be able to notify users who have reported problems once their public works service request has been resolved.

Teresa Donnellan is an associate editor at SmartBrief.