The idea for Waze originated years ago, when Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with a degree in Philosophy and Computer Science from Tel Aviv University, was given a PDA with an external GPS device pre-installed with navigation software. Ehud's initial excitement quickly gave way to disappointment when he saw that the product didn't reflect the dynamic changes that characterize real conditions on the road, or have real-time info, like where speed traps were located.
An experienced open-source developer with a passion for social services and apps, Ehud took matters into his own hands and started to build the first dynamic traffic platform which combined GPS, open-source software and a community of drivers. His goal? To accurately reflect the road system, state of traffic and all the information relevant to drivers at any given moment.
Ehud's open-source mapping project, named Freemap, began officially in 2006 and was enthusiastically received by the community of drivers in Israel. Two years later, he got together with entrepreneurs, Uri Levine and Amir Shinar, and together they founded Waze (formerly called Linqmap) which was initially funded by the Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital and recently received additional funding from Kleiner Perkins and Li Ka-shing's Horizon Ventures.
Roads are dynamic and are changing all the time, yet maps and GPS devices fail to reflect this, leaving drivers in the dark as to what's really happening out there on the road. With Waze, though, the key benefit is the community-contributed element of our app - in fact, it's what really set us apart. When users drive with the app open, they passively contribute real-time road information that gives other Wazers an up-to-the-minute, highly accurate picture of conditions out there on the road. Users can also actively create road reports that give even more information about what's going to others in the local driving community, making Waze incredibly useful - plus, it's a whole lotta fun!
By simply driving with the app open on your phone, you passively contribute traffic and other road data that helps the Waze system to provide other Waze drivers with the most optimal route to their destination, including live traffic information. But you can also take a more active role by reporting on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a 'heads-up' about what's to come and contributing to the common good out there on the road.
Some of the Waze community members with a passion for maps also take an even more active role by editing and updating the Waze map, itself. Most of the editing work is done on the Waze website, but some parts, such as the naming of streets, can be done through the application directly.
Keep your eyes open for treasure chests and other 'road goodies' on the streets you travel for the chance to earn extra points or win real-world prizes. You can also complete a few actions, found on the 'me' tab of the Waze scoreboard, to unlock bonus point candies that have the potential to take you to the next rank level - and even all the way up to Waze royalty!
The social side of Waze has a lot going on, too. You can create or join local driving groups, 'Check in' to locations on Foursquare to earn Waze's 'Road Warrior' badge, use Twitter to tweet your activities on Waze to your followers and connect to Facebook to see all of your Waze-using Facebook friends around you on the map - it's lotsa fun!
While drivers may be alone in their cars, they're often a part of a broader group of drivers that drive to the same destination, share the same challenges or have a common interest. Waze lets these drivers easily create, or join, groups that allow members to view each other on the map and better communicate with each other while on the road. More information can be found here.
Yes, Waze is completely free for our users. Since the map itself is based on community contributions, it's only natural that Waze is available at no cost for those who contribute to building it. We generate income via location-based advertising.
Absolutely not. We respect the privacy of our users and enable them to use our app in almost total anonymity. We do not require personal details - apart from an email address - for registering or using Waze.
A GPS-enabled smartphone and a data plan (we recommend an unlimited data plan). We support iPhone, Android and selected Blackberry, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices.
Connectivity is required to allow Waze to both receive and deliver real-time road information. In addition, your connectivity allows Waze to immediately re-route you as conditions on the road change.
We are committed to keeping Waze free for our end users who help build the system, yet we're a commercial company who's looking to generate revenue. When looking at the OSM licensing terms, we felt that they might limit us from certain business models in the future, and, therefore, decided to use TIGER maps instead. This may change in the future, however, and we are open to potential cooperation with OSM, and other, similar, services down the line.