Traffic in Latin America? We’re looking at you

A new Waze partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank Group is working to reduce congestion and air pollution

Traffic in Latin America is epic. In fact, Bogotá, Mexico City, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro rank among Inrix’s list of top 10 most congested cities on the planet.

At Waze, we’re into finding solutions. That’s why we’ve teamed with the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), a partner that invests in transportation infrastructure across Latin America to help reduce poverty and increase sustainability. They know these cities inside and out.

Patricia Yanez, Economist at IDB Invest, presents lessons learned from transport interventions with Waze data.

The IDB is expanding how it supports mobility by connecting Latin American cities with Waze’s data sharing program and Waze Carpool.

In May 2019, Waze and IDB hosted a summit in Mexico City which brought together over 200 mobility thought leaders from government and private sector to share best practices for traffic management, incentivizing the shift away from solo driving, and using data to inform transportation planning and priorities.

“If we don’t take action to take advantage of technology, the City of São Paulo can literally stop in 15 years,” said São Paulo Secretary of Transportation and featured speaker Edson Caram. “We are able to consider solutions like dynamic timing signal and carpooling with the help of Waze. I am here to learn what we can do for Sao Paulo with the help from Waze and IDB.”

Guilherme Cenachi from Accenture, showcases how the Brazilian National Infrastructure Department uses data intelligence in transportation projects.

The event took place during a multi-day stretch of “very bad” air quality (10 out of 10 on Mexico’s air pollution rating scale). Mexico City’s baseline air pollution is such that as of the time of our event, the city had only had nine days of “clean” air in 2019; the transportation sector is the biggest contributor to this pollution. The air problems in May were exacerbated by wildfires on the outskirts of the city, likely accelerated by changing climate.

Leticia Gutiérrez, Mexico City’s Secretary of the Environment, reminded the audience that 74% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, with roughly 23% coming from private vehicles. Her thoughts — and the smoggy backdrop of Mexico City — added even more of a sense of urgency to the event, and the incredible work of that Waze partners are doing to improve urban mobility.