While this year has had its challenges, we’re always focused on moving forward. Which is why today we held our first-ever global virtual event: Waze On. We gathered with Wazers around the world to talk through our new products and features, and the incredible partnerships and communities that drive us.
1. The Road to Ending Traffic
Chief Wazer Noam Bardin opened the event by sharing that Waze was founded on one simple belief: by working together, we can outsmart traffic. Every month, more than 140 million Wazers all over the world contribute to the community by driving over 36 billion kilometers and reporting over 70 million incidents in 185 countries. But traffic continues to get worse, and the fundamental problem is too many cars, not enough roads. The answer is both simple and complicated, we have to start taking cars off the road.
That’s why a few years ago we launched Waze Carpool, which matches people headed in the same direction to save time and money by riding together, enabling some of us to leave our car at home.
Why carpooling? These pictures sum it up:
Although the COVID pandemic has changed the world as we know it, it also gave us a glimpse of what life could be like with less traffic. People now experience traffic-free commutes, cities transformed roads into pedestrian walkways, and parking spaces turned into dining rooms. All of these temporary changes could be permanent in cities of the future, if we all carpooled and removed cars from the roads, freeing up valuable space for other uses.
2. The Power of our Communities
Waze has a passionate community of 50,000 active volunteers globally. Hila Roth, who heads up the Global Communities Team, has traveled to more than 40 countries to host meetups with our volunteer communities. But who are these volunteers, and what do they do?
There are five unique communities: Map Editors, Beta Testers, Localizers, Partners, and Carpool — and they’re really the magic that powers Waze. From navigating the complexities of manually mapping thousands of toll booth locations and prices in 40 countries, to adding critical data to the Waze map in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak to help their fellow Wazers get where they needed to be. Want to hear more about the work our community does? Curious to hear it in their words versus our bullet-point list? Learn more about how they’re helping other Wazers and improving the way people get around at waze.com/communities.
3. Reimagining the Waze Experience
Our Chief Product Officer Rapha Cohen talked about some exciting new products we’ll be launching to make your experience on the road better than ever: by creating new features that anticipate and respond to your specific needs. From Trip Suggestions and Notifications, to improved ETA calculations and Lane Guidance, you’ll always know what’s happening on the roads in advance, so you can adjust your plans, avoid delays and stressful drives — and maybe even get a little time back.
Rapha also explained how we are making it easier for people to carpool than ever, with Real-Time Rides and Instant Book (aka Auto-Approve) all significantly increasing the simplicity of finding a ride or drive. With fewer public transit options available as a result of COVID-19, we’re hoping that these features make Carpool an even better solution for those making essential journeys.
4. The Waze Partnership Ecosystem
Did you know Waze is at the center of a much bigger ecosystem bringing together companies, communities, broadcasters, public and private sector partners? Our CMO Erin Clift explained that this community collectively impacts more than 2 billion citizens and the cities they live in. From cities and municipalities, to partners across Carpool, product, advertising and brands, these groups come together to solve the challenges of mobility at a global scale.
And speaking of brand partners, Erin talked us through Waze’s new Batman theme — bringing the Caped Crusader and his arch nemesis The Riddler directly to your drives — and gave us a sneak peek at a new Audio Player partner coming to your Waze app later this year!
5. Wazers around the world!
Our final and most important highlight is you — our loyal Waze users, partners and volunteers. This was the first time in Waze history that we’ve had the opportunity to bring you all together to celebrate how your contributions are helping create a world where traffic can become history. We can’t thank you enough for everything you do — from your regular feedback and suggestions, to editing and translating, to city-level data… we are here because of you, so thank you and Waze On!