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Better Waze to drive
NH joins neighboring states in sharing traffic app data

12/10/15
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



Imagine you drive by a car on the highway with smoke coming out of its engine, stranded in the right lane. Emergency crews haven’t arrived yet, but it’s clearly going to impact traffic. There’s an app for that.

The app is called Waze, and while it won’t fix the car or clear the traffic, it will allow drivers (or, in the case of states with hands-free laws like New Hampshire, passengers) to alert other users of the app to the traffic-creating event. Drivers who receive the alert can then take the necessary detours — Waze provides alternate routes and drive time estimates.
Now, thanks to a new and free data-sharing agreement between New Hampshire and Waze, state traffic managers are getting the heads-up about these incidents as well.
Denise Markow, the transportation systems manager at the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, says that means they can find out about things like traffic accidents sooner, redirect traffic sooner and maybe even send first responders faster.
“Many times, citizens go by something and, in reporting it, we will get notifications and alerting of an incident a whole lot quicker than [the current process],” Markow said.
She says without Waze, folks call 911, which contacts New Hampshire State Police. A state trooper is then dispatched to the scene, and when he gets there he calls it into the Traffic Management Center.
“We’re trying to reduce that gap between that event happening and the information we get out to the public,” Markow said.
NHDOT will start using the Waze data when it launches the new tri-state data link between New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, in about 6 to 8 weeks. In the meantime, app users will start to see traffic event information provided by NHDOT.
“The long-term goal is to have a traffic management system that will push data back and forth through a data hub, and we all can share that data,” Markow said.
App users will see when there’s a traffic problem and non-app users will see instructions on the big dynamic message boards above the freeways, telling them to try a different route.
Eventually, Markow says, the tri-state coalition hopes to incorporate Massachusetts as well.
“They are currently working on the design of their traffic management system right now, so they’re probably about two years behind us,” Markow said.
Besides accidents, Markow says users of the app — known as “Wazers” — can report road hazards like potholes, map inaccuracies, traffic jams and even police speed traps.
Laura Finkelstein, one of Waze’s spokespersons, said in an email that Concord has more than 50,000 active “Wazers” per month, but she was unable to provide a statewide number.
“I’ve seen it where there’s been 14,000 Wazers in a certain radius location and then there’s been 500. So, the range is varied,” Markow said.
The data-sharing agreement is part of Waze’s Connected Citizens Program.
Besides the manually created incident reports that drivers and passengers create in the app, Waze says it’s also providing “passive GPS reports” using Google Maps, though Markow says they won’t need it. NHDOT is already in an agreement to get similar data from TomTom and is paying for that data layer, because it works with a more compatible mapping system than the Waze data. So if a roadway is starting to grind to a halt, red flags will go off at Markow’s control center, she said. 





®2018 Hippo Press. site by wedu