Crisis Response Process and FAQs History


When a crisis occurs, Waze, our editor community, and Waze Partners work together to help people in the affected area. Our goal is to collect information quickly and efficiently in order to provide as many helpful real-time updates and communication channels on the Waze map as possible.

Each crisis report we receive is treated as an SOS. The actions taken depend on the information and resources available, and evolve as more information comes in. Waze works closely with the different Waze communities to ensure that all possible data and communication channels are accurate and updated in real time.

  • On the map
    • Real-time road closures
    • Shelter information
    • Evacuation zones
  • Outreach
    • Request additional information through social media
    • Communicate Waze information to users through push messages
    • Offer support to local partners where possible and call on them to provide further information
    • Media Team contacts local media channels to present Waze as a resource during the crisis and to provide further information

Please note: The above efforts happen in parallel.


How to share information about a crisis with Waze?

Users can report a crisis to [[1]].

Emails should include:

  • Subject format: “URGENT: Crisis Event in [Country + Type]”
  • Message body: Any relevant info/news coverage. Add a bounding box, if possible.

Communication with the local community

Some communities have first-responder volunteers who are our first points of contact in case of a crisis event. Community First Responders act as a bridge between the local community and Waze staff.

Interested in becoming a Community First Responder? Reach out to your community leaders and fill out this form.

We also communicate with local partners to get additional information. If you know of a good lead (private or government organization), please email us their information – either before or during a crisis – at [[2]] and we will reach out to them directly.

Sharing road closure data

Waze Map Editor

To add road closures directly through the WME, you will need to create a “crisis” MTE (if one does not already exist) and then associate all related closures to it. To learn more about how to create an MTE, read the WME Events Editor Guide.

Important: Events created as a “crisis” automatically get sent to [[3]].

Any editor with closure permissions can create a crisis-type MTE and associate closures.

Note: Currently, you cannot “submit” the event. We are working on automating the crisis-response process, but we do not yet create automatic web pages or push notifications as we do for standard MTEs.

We know that not everybody has road-closure permissions. If you have active editors who you’d like to give temporary road-closure permissions to, please send a list of usernames to [[4]] with the subject “URGENT: Crisis Response closure permissions.” We will give temporary permissions to these users.

Other data sources

If you are unable to enter other closure data sources to WME for any reason, please send them to [[5]] with the subject “URGENT: Data sources for crisis.”

Submitting shelters

Waze will create and share with the community a spreadsheet for adding shelters. The data you enter into the spreadsheet will appear as pins on the map (see below). Each field contains information that will appear once the pin is selected.

Note: You can currently select a “shelter” category for venues in the WME. This is the first step in a wider project to streamline and automate the crisis-response process, and give the community additional tools. Selecting this category has no impact on the map, so you still need to add any shelters to the spreadsheet.

Columns A-G *mandatory*

Status: The status of the shelter: Did you just add it to the spreadsheet or update the information? Is the shelter closed? This is also where Waze Staff will update what has been done with the information (uploaded, updated, or removed).

Comment: If you updated existing information, what did you update? This helps our team make the correct changes.

Pin name: The name that appears on the pin. This should be “Crisis Shelter” in the local language or any other name that accurately and concisely describes the pin (evacuation center, emergency shelter, donation center, etc).

Address: The street name and building number of the Crisis Shelter. Often, this will exceed the character limit, so abbreviate it as much as necessary so that it’s at (or under) 50 characters, while still understandable. This is not how we locate the pin, so don’t worry if it isn’t exactly the correct abbreviation. 50 character limit.

City, State: The city and state where the shelter is located. 50 character limit.

Columns I-N *optional*

Additional info: The name of the shelter or access information. 30 character limit.

Long description: Any additional info about what services the shelter provides. 80 character limit.

Phone number: The phone number of the shelter.

URL: The website of the shelter or the organization in charge of the shelters (e.g. Red Cross)

Column O / Columns P+Q *mandatory*


Users can either enter a permalink, which will automatically populate the Lat/Long, or they can enter the coordinates directly in the Lat/Long columns.

Important: Each field has a character limit. The columns in orange are automatic character counters that will turn red once you are over the limit. If you see that what you are trying to enter is too long, abbreviate it in any way that will still be understandable to Waze users.

Pins in the app

Below is an example of what the pin information looks like once it's uploaded.

Crisis push notifications

There are three different types of push notifications that Waze can send. These notifications have been reviewed and approved by different teams at Waze, so customization is not an option.

  • If there is closure information but no shelter information, we can send a closure push
    • Tapping the push takes the user to the map where they can see closures
  • If there is shelter information (regardless of any other type of information you may have), we can send a shelter push
    • Tapping the push takes the user to the search screen, which is pre-populated with the word “Help”
  • If there is a gas shortage, we can send a gas shortage push in addition to all other types of ucomms that are sent
    • Tapping the push takes the user to the report screen > gas station

Evacuation Zones

An Evacuation Zone is an area from which an official organization is ordering people to evacuate. When a government has made evacuation plans, certain areas can be known in advance. However, depending on the type of crisis event and the organizations involved, they can also be dynamic and decided on in real time.

The Evacuation Zone feature helps keep users safe by:

  • Warning them when they are in, or their destination is in an evacuation zone
  • Automatically rerouting drivers around an area en route to a destination – even if this increases journey time

For zones that we know in advance:

  • Waze will avoid routing drivers through evacuation zones, even if it’s the most efficient route
  • If a user’s destination is within an evacuation zone, Waze will give them the option to change their destination

For dynamic zones that we receive in real time:

  • If a user’s destination is within an evacuation zone, Waze will give them the option to change their destination

Once Waze has the polygons, partners can report an active evacuation zone by emailing [[6]]. We can then activate them in real time.


Feature limitations

The main limitation of the feature is that for navigation to have an effect, the polygons need a tile build to apply in the map. This means that we need the evacuation zones at least 24 hours in advance to be able to support them with navigation. Once we have them built in, we can support activating them in real time. Email [[7]] to enable/disable zones.

Acceptable data

In order to accept polygons for evacuation zones, Waze must have the data from official government sources. This means that if you (a wonderful community member!) submit the zones to us, please also link us to the source so that we can verify it and request permission (if the source is not already a Waze for Cities partner).

File format

  • One polygon per file (no multipolygons)
  • Format: KML or WKT
  • Naming: Official name as referred to by the government

How to submit evacuation zone data

Once you have all the data specified in the “Acceptable data” section above, email [[8]]. Waze Crisis will work with you to confirm that the zones were successfully uploaded.

Crisis Response Drills

What is a Crisis Response Drill?

Crisis Response Drills are Waze’s practice responses to a crisis, often in collaboration with the community and/or partners.

Why have drills?

Running drills allows us to find holes in all aspects of our processes and to decrease real-time response times.

How to run a drill with the Crisis Response Team

Request a drill: Email [[9]] at least one week before the day you wish to hold a drill and we will confirm participation. Waze is available for drills Monday to Thursday.

Partners: If you would like to involve any Waze Partners, let us know who you have in mind and we will coordinate the outreach.

Create an MTE: Waze or the community will create an MTE with no associated road closures.

Shelters sheet: Waze will create a shelters sheet, which will be shared with you. Once we receive locations, we will upload a single test pin.

Push notification: Waze will send a test “crisis” push notification to specific users (usernames should be shared with Waze in advance).

Evacuation Zones: Waze will share an evacuation zone spreadsheet so you can alert us when zones are activated.


First Responder form

Events guide

Road closure how-to video