Complete Guide to Waze in South Africa (Under Development)
Thank you for your interest in improving the roads in South Africa. To get started, make sure you are up to speed with the basics of how to use the Waze Map Editor (WME). Editing is a time consuming activity, so it could be handy to use the shortcut keys. Pressing '?' while using WME will pop up a panel showing the supported shortcut keys.
Before you begin, please read the information about Google aerial images and the use of Googze (i.e. don't use it!). Consulting a map book or looking up the name of the road should be ok, but do not trace roads from Google maps or Google aerial images. In areas which have been gated off, Google is not always accurate anyway. Please ensure you read the section on external sources of data as using these may infringe copyrights. It is preferable to use GIS information supplied by local authorities, should this be available.
Start with the Basics
Before you blindly start editing, make sure you look at the Tips for successful editing. Also ensure that you log in to the correct server. The 'www.waze.com' URL is only for USA and Canada. The proper server for the rest of the world is world.waze.com, with the WME editor at world.waze.com/editor.
Check out the Forums
All the Waze sites use the same Username and Password that you registered with. If you have not yet logged in or registered on the Waze Forums, you can follow this link. Please ensure that you at least set you location in the 'User Control Panel / Profile Tab / Location' so that people can easily see which part of the world you are from when you post anything. South Africa has a dedicated Sub-Forum located in the Country (Language) Forums section.
Editing or Creating roads
Choosing the correct road type
Choosing the correct road type is important in correctly mapping out your area. Below is the most common supported road types. When any of the National, Regional or Metropolitan designations (N,R,M) are used as part of the road name, the correct road type should be taken into consideration, especially when the road goes through towns. If a Freeway type is used where an N road runs through a major street in a smaller town, the inhabitants will never be routed on the main roads in the town if their client option is set to 'Avoid Highways'.
- Freeways are free flowing roads with no regular intersections. Access to Freeways are limited to only on- and off-ramps. This means that there are no stop signs or traffic lights on the Freeway itself. Traffic lights and stop signs are limited only to where the ramps connect to other road types. These are generally your national roads (N1, N2, N3 ...) or motorways (M1, M2 ...).
- Major Highway
- These roads generally have multiple lanes and have very little or no stop signs or traffic lights regulating its flow through intersections. Access to major highways are not via special ramps, but via normal intersections with other road types. They are generally alternate routes leading from one major city to another, and may go through the center of smaller towns. They are generally the regional roads (R roads) (R21, R23, R24, R29).
- Minor Highway
- These are similar to major highways, except that they have traffic lights or stop signs that regulate the flow of traffic on both the Minor Highway itself and on the intersecting roads. They will generally be R roads which are single lane and where 3- or 4-way stops are often found at intersections.
Ramps are used to connect entrances and exits to Freeways and Highways. They should only be used to connect any street type to Freeways, Major Highways or Minor Highways. The 'Ramp' road type should never be used as AT-Grade connectors for creating slipways on non-highway road types.
These are roads that are not highways and are heavily used. This would generally be the fastest route you would take to travel through a suburb or town. Examples in Johannesburg would be Rivonia Road, Bowling Avenue and South Road in Sandton, or Jan Smuts, Rissik and Empire in town.
Service roads generally run alongside freeways and highways, allowing access to businesses situated right next to it. In other countries they are also used by emergency vehicles.
In South Africa we generally have a hard shoulder which is used as an emergency lane, and we do not have service roads that lead directly off of our freeways.
Dirt Roads/4x4 Trails
Any public road that does not have a tarred or otherwise paved surface can be considered a dirt road. Private farm roads and trails that are used exclusively as 4x4 trails should preferably not be mapped. They provide no functionality for the general commuter.
Parking Lot Road
As the name suggests, parking lot roads are used to map parking lots for shopping centers and Parkades. It is strongly advised not to clutter the map by drawing every single lane of the parking lot, but just the general exits and entrances and main sections that lead directly to shop fronts. If you map all lanes, do not be surprised if some of your edits are deleted by Area Managers. Parking lot roads are especially useful to 'offload' false traffic jam information at some fast food drive-throughs, or when parking lots are close to main roads and Waze might think you are stationary on the main road.
These are roads that are not accessible to the general public. i.e. you need special permission to access these roads. This is for Military Bases and gated communities like secure complexes (think Dainfern in Fourways or the Equestrian estate in Woodmead). Some complexes have multiple entrances that connects to the national grid at opposite ends, and if they are not marked as Private Roads, Waze will incorrectly attempt to route people through there.
Any drivable road that does not fit into the categories above ,is a street.
Non drivable road
In general, we do not encourage the use of these categories. They are unnecessary, but some railroads are already mapped. Ensure that you never connect any of these to the normal road network, as Waze will attempt to route traffic across these roads if they are connected to normal drivable road types. The general standard is to set 'Railroad' road types to levels to 9 or -5.
After creating a new road, it is important to set the proper allowed direction of travel or directionality of the road. Roads can be 'one way' in a specific direction, or 'two-way' which allows traffic in both directions along the same segment. Normal streets are usually two-way, allowing traffic in both directions along the same segment or portion of the road. Freeways on the other hand are typically mapped as two separate One Way segments that run parallel to one another, with each of the parallel lanes allowing traffic to only flow in one direction.
Setting Turn Restrictions
When you connect one road to another road, verify the correct directionality of all the road segments that you connected. After the directionality is set, you should then set the correct turns that allowed where the roads connect. This is known as Turn restrictions and it enables you to set the turns that are allowed or not allowed where the roads connect to each other. These connections are referred to as 'Junctions' in the editor, and is a mapped version of the actual intersection of the streets. Setting turn restrictions ensures that Waze routing on the map is only allowed in the same directions as what is possible on the actual roadways. If you are not allowed to turn left at an intersection while driving, there should also be a physical turn restriction on the Waze Map, indicating that a left turn is not permitted. A 'Green Arrow' indicates an allowed turn, while a 'Red Arrow' indicates that a turn is not allowed.
Controlling Turn Instructions
It is important to understand how turn instructions are generated by Waze and how proper instructions can be forced by clever editing. In the same way, careless editing or leaving extra geometry nodes can also produce some unwanted or incorrect instructions. Generating turn instructions are discussed in the section on controlling turn instructions.
Setting Road Levels
Normal road levels should be set to 'Level 0'. Where roads intersect without actually connecting, like at Bridges or Highway Ramps, the appropriate levels should be set to ensure that none of the roads over or under has the same level. See Overpasses and Underpasses.
If roads appear as red lines in the editor, they are not named and there is no guarantee that they will be visible or even usable by the Waze client application. There are two reasons for properly naming roads : Audible directions and Traffic reports.
Waze uses TTS (Text-To-Speech) to provide driving instructions. In the Android and iPhone Waze clients, the road names are spoken as part of the driving instructions, e.g. 'Turn left into Elizabeth Avenue'.
For traffic reports, the Road Name and City Name portion is used as a visible clue in the report. It is thus important to correctly name and identify the proper location of each road. If you receive an alert that indicates an accident on 'Rivonia Rd', you would have no idea which portion of Rivonia Road is affected. If the report states that it is near 'Rivonia Rd, Morningside, Sandton', you would immediately know which portion of Rivonia Road is affected.
The accepted naming convention for the 'Street Name' is to use the proper English abbreviation for the road name. The accepted name for 'Elizabeth Avenue' or 'Elizabeth Laan' should thus be 'Elizabeth Ave'. Where road names are just numbers, rather stick to what the actual signage indicates for the name, as '21 First Road' is likely not the same place as '21 1st Road'.
Acceptable abbreviations are :
Freeways and motorways
Freeways and motorways generally have a letter/number that everyone recognizes as well as a name that most people don't. For example, the N1 by Johannesburg is called the Western Bypass. As such, the northbound section should be named: N1 Western Bypass North, while the southbound portion should be named N1 Western Bypass South. If you are unsure of the full name, then just name it by its common name, i.e. N1 North. It is advisable to use the full direction and not the abbreviation as N1 North looks a lot cleaner on the client than N1 (N).
Major and minor highways
The same rules apply as those for freeways, however, you should think carefully about splitting major highways. Minor highways that are single lane in either direction should never be split. In such cases you would simple leave out the direction indicator.
Most primary roads will have a name that everyone recognises and a number that not many do. For example, Bowling Avenue is the M85. The naming scheme should be the name followed by the number in brackets, i.e. Bowling Ave (M85) or Commissioner St (R24)
Normal streets generally just have a name with no separate N, R or M designation.
Roundabouts should not be named, but they should also not be left as red blotches of road. Select the 'No Name' checkbox for each of the segments in the roundabout, and properly fill in the 'Suburb, City' name for the segments. If the City is not known, or you are uncertain, ensure you check the 'No City' checkbox. The Roundabout road types should also match the highest road types that connects to it, as it could affect routing. Was it mentioned that you should not leave them as freshly paved 'red' roads ?
Naming the City
South African addresses are complicated in that they have multiple levels:
An example would be:
Country: South Africa
Waze automatically stores the country, so this is unnecessary. However, the other three are all likely candidates when searching for an address. This is a problem as Waze only allows us to capture 1 entry under city. Wazers have got round this problem by capturing the Suburb, City. So the above example would be Morningside, Johannesburg. This is the recommended method as just capturing the suburb can cause confusion with people who are not familiar with the area.
Please do not type anything into the English City Name (if available). Our cities are either in English or do not have an English equivalent. There is no need to translate Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein. In the past someone thought they might be able to use this field for a suburb, unfortunately this means that center Johannesburg has an english name of "Sunningwood"
Splitting a road
Splitting dual lane roads is not advised as this requires a lot of maintenance with turn restrictions at intersections. A split road will generally cause Waze to start recommending illegal U-Turns if it is not properly created. This includes routing onto an adjacent road, where a U-Turn will be suggested to get back onto the same road again, especially where traffic lights have longer than average waiting periods. As it is not a simple task to un-split a road, be sure to refer to the sections on when to split or not split a 2-way road and when to unsplit a road. WME does not currently support the "Separating Lane" option that the retired Cartouche editor had.
Other Mappable Categories
Waze supports certain Landmarks that can be mapped. Not all types are useful, and Landmarks should be used sparingly. Traffic Circles can also be created to generate proper instructions for negotiating roundabouts.
Traffic Circles / Roundabouts
If traffic circles are mapped just using normal street types, drivers will not get any special instructions. It is thus important to create them using the Roundabout tool. This way the driver will be notified to carry straight on, or take a specific exit number using an 'At the roundabout, ...' voice prompt. The best way to create a roundabout is discussed in this section of the Wiki. When multiple different road types all connect to the roundabout, ensure that the proper road type is set to the highest common denominator for the roundabout road type.
Waze supports quite a number of different Landmark types. Adding Landmarks should be done sparingly, as they tend to clutter the map and not all of the landmarks serve any useful purpose. Some of the landmarks have the ability to suppress traffic generation, like the 'Gas Station' or the 'Parking Lot' type. If Waze detects that you are within any of these landmarks, and you are stationary, it will not generate false 'Traffic Jam' information. It is thus important to ensure that these types of landmarks do not overlap or snap to any of the roads around them, as this will inhibit traffic report generation in these areas.
Tips for successful editing
- Get acquainted with the basics. The Wiki is a reference for both new and experienced editors alike.
- Always keep things as simple as possible. Do not draw all roads exactly as they appear. Dual laned roads causes a lot of complications and errors.
- Before you connect or disconnect any roads to/from existing junctions, ensure that you verify the existing turn restrictions that are in place for all the connected segments.
- Drawing two roads so that they touch, does not automatically mean Waze will route from the one to the other. To allow routing, make sure they form a new junction (round node) if you drag them together. A square geometry node is not a connection. To make your life easier, make sure you always override the "Enable all turns" after creating a junction. Highlight the junction and press 'Q' and then 'W'. This means you can then restrict just the turns that are not possible.
- If you drag two segments together and they refuse to create a connection node, you can try connecting them by dragging one slightly past the other so they cross, and then selecting both segments using the 'Control+Left-Click' method. This would usually bring up the intersection popup where they overlap, allowing you to connect them if you click on it. Click on the extra piece sticking over, and delete that.
- When mapping new areas, always verify turn restrictions after you have created all of the roads. For best results, zoom out to the 100m/500ft zoom level and press the 'Shift-A' key. This will highlight any turns that are not allowed using the normal Red Arrows around junctions. You can then verify that the correct restrictions are in place by zooming back in to each of the locations where the arrows show up. If they should be allowed, you can select the junction and press the 'Q' and 'W' keys to allow turns. Pressing 'Shift-A' will toggle this functionality on and off.
- When connecting roads, the 'soft turn restrictions' (not visible in the editor) will automatically allow all valid turns for the connectivity based on road directionality. The 'hard turn restrictions' (visible via the red & green arrows) will be set not to allow any turns to and from the newly connected segment. To ensure that soft turn restrictions do not cause routing problems later on, click on the connection node and press the 'Q' key to disallow all turns for soft and hard turn restrictions. You can then allow each individual turn for each segment by selecting the connected segments in turn. If all turns should be allowed for all directions, press the 'W' key while the junction node is still selected.
- Do not add new segments into the middle of busy roads. Rather re-use and split a piece from an existing adjacent segment of the same road. This way the existing speed information and history is retained. Adding a new segment with no speed information or history could initially cause some weird routing if the segment goes live on the map. This might then persist until new history is built up for the newly added segment.
- If you need to move two connected roads far from where they currently are, disconnect them from each other. To do this, click the road, then click and drag both of the junctions where they connect, away from the main junction. As roads cannot be moved with WME while retaining their geometry or layout, you would be better off deleting all the geometry nodes by hovering over them while holding the 'D' key down.
- To select multiple roads, hold down the 'Control' key while click on the roads.
- When looking at URs (User Reported problems) or Map Problems, always test existing routing on the Livemap if the problem involves invalid routing. If the problem is not evident, you can always ask for assistance in the Waze Forum. If you cannot work out what the problem is, it might be a small piece of a road underneath. Try moving some of the roads out the way to see if a latent piece of road was left cut off when a junction was added.
- Some members of the Waze community has written a few helpful scripts that helps identifying problems. Use them to your advantage.
- Learn the shortcut keys. They make life a lot simpler!
A lot of Frequently Asked Questions are already covered in the current FAQ.
The Glossary explains some of the abbreviations and terminology used in the Waze world.
Client Device User Manuals
Even though it's not widely advertised, there are some User Manuals available for the supported device types. It may not relate to the latest version of the client, but might help you understand the functionality provided by the client interface.