MMDA and Waze Solving Traffic Together Soon?

Given how regularly crazy traffic in Metro Manila is, I feel quite blessed to be able to do all of my work from home and only venture out on the road for meetings either in Makati or BGC.

When I do drive to a meeting, I use Waze to get to wherever I am going in the least time possible. I don’t really care if I have to squeeze my car though narrow back streets just so long as I am not stuck on EDSA or some other main traffic artery.

It’s great that I can play my favorite playlist on Spotify while getting instructions from Spotify (I use Waze’s Coach voice), because after a while the whole thing feels like a game of sorts and before you know it, Waze tells you that “You’ve arrived at your destination!”

This morning, as I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a couple of memes where the MMDA was asking people to “help solve traffic together” and I thought that sounded so familiar.

In fact, Waze’s slogan says “Waze. Outsmarting Traffic Together.”

And I thought, “Why doesn’t the MMDA just team up with Waze?”

Good old Jon Limjap chimed in and commented that Yves Gonzales had started talks with Waze. (A search for MMDA + Waze turns up an article by Rappler published in November 2012 which compares the MMDA’s app with Waze.)

If I remember correctly, it was Yves who created the MMDA App where you can see the bottle necks along EDSA and C5. I am not at sure if future versions of the MMDA App would allow it to help drivers navigate though Metro Manila’s traffic, but that would be a logical path for the MMDA App to evolve until Waze started becoming popular in the Philippines.

With the advent of Waze, it would seem that the more efficient way for the MMDA to come up with an App that could help people navigate through traffic would be to just find a way to team up with Waze.

That’s just the broad and general idea. I don’t have a definite idea on how the MMDA and Waze could work together. Just off the top of my mind, here are a couple of ideas:

  • The MMDA can share its traffic data from CCTVs to augment the traffic data gathered from Waze’s users. Perhaps this would make Waze’s ability to sense traffic congestion more accurate. Thing is, I’ve noticed that sometimes Waze flags certain roads as heavily congested when they are not and probably this is because it wasn’t able to update its map information.
  • With the National Free Wi-Fi in place, perhaps the MMDA could also request the Department of ICT to enable these Wi-Fi routers along major arteries to pick up signals from smartphones in the area and use that as an additional means of gauging traffic flow in real time. In effect, these Wi-Fi routers would act like sensors used to determine the vehicle load of major arteries and if the data could be fed to Waze’s system, again, we’d have more accurate traffic information.
  • One neat thing about Waze is that it allows you to report traffic conditions (moderate, heavy, standstill, hazards, and accidents. Perhaps the MMDA can request Waze to include additional reporting buttons for illegally parked cars, warn people of flooded streets, advise motorists to make way for emergency vehicles passing through an area and perhaps even a panic button for people in distress.

waze-app-report_menu-584x1000These are just ideas and who knows, maybe they’ve already been discussed somewhere else.

Thing is, another friend caught sight of the short discussion I was having with Jon on Facebook and he asked MMDA Chairman Tim Orbos about the possibility of a tie-up of sorts between MMDA and Waze.

Lo and behold, he comes back to me with word that the agency in charge of managing Metro Manila’s traffic was already on top of it.

The actual words were, “We are already about to close the deal.”

If so, then I think MMDA Chairman Orbos deserves some praise for following through with an MMDA-Waze tie up. For one, it is a departure from what usually happens when a new administration comes to power and that is when it either junks projects just because it was gestated by the previous administration or renames a project as a way of claiming it for the new administration. For another, it seems people won’t be able to tell this MMDA Chairman what he should be doing because he’s step ahead and already on it.

But of course, the rest of the MMDA has to catch up and it will take time for things to happen.

In the mean time, just do what I do… Make sure you’ve got some good music in your car, make sure your Waze is on, and wearing an adult diaper won’t hurt.

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Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.