Social GPS by Dave Nelsen

None of us is as smart as all of us … especially when it comes to navigating. If you want to get to your destination faster, safer, and more predictably, it’s time to become a Wazer.

To be a Wazer, all you need to do is to download a free app called Waze. Get this: Not long ago, Google and Apple, both of whom already had mapping apps, got in a bidding war, along with another small player called Facebook, to buy this app. Google prevailed at $1,000,000,000. So you know that Waze must be a revolution. And it is. Here’s how it works.

Waze looks at traffic in real time, and at your calendar, and then alerts you when it’s time to go based on actual traffic conditions. Its predictions are scary good (and way better than Apple Maps or Google Maps). As you and other Wazers (or technically their passengers) travel, we collectively report in what’s going on with the roads. In parallel, the app tracks the speed of our vehicles (anonymously) and uses all of this data to route us around problems before we encounter them. Waze is all knowing, at least when it comes to traffic.

Further, a half mile before any obstacle, Waze alerts you. You can select from a variety of voices so for the longest time, I used Elvis. Imagine (doing your best Elvis impression): “Police ahead in half a mile, baby!” How amazing is that? I’ve not had a speeding ticket in the three years that I’ve been using Waze. Thank you Elvis!

Even more valuable is “Object on road in half a mile.” This is where the real fun begins. As I’m jolted out of my hypnotic driving stupor, I check the lanes on either side to make sure they’re clear. A quarter of a mile before said object, I spot it and signal if necessary to change lanes.  I calmly and safely pass the object (often a truck tire tread, or sometimes roadkill which Waze identifies explicitly) and then I watch my rearview mirror because the guy behind me is never a Wazer. He’ll drive right up to that object and hit it, or swerve widely at the last second. It’s really entertaining.

Waze, or more accurately Wazers, report accidents, gas prices, red light cameras, weather problems, pot holes, road construction … and everything else important.

You will learn (most likely the hard way) to trust Waze. One day, I was driving 70 MPH on I-70 from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA. Elvis popped on and said, “Exit here.” I’m thinking, “Elvis, my exit is 40 miles from here.” But I’ve been burned by ignoring Elvis’ advice in the past so I exit. I found myself wandering some back country roads with, at best, 40 MPH speed limits. But sure enough, on a rise I spotted I-70 below me with a miles long traffic back-up due to some accident. And soon enough, Elvis had me back on the interstate on the far side of trouble.

As you report events into Waze for the benefit of other drivers, you will earn Waze points. Earn enough points and you can become a Waze Warrior (top 10%), a Waze Knight (top 4%), or even Waze Royalty (top 1%). Yes, I am now a Wazer King.

People ask me all the time, “What do you get for being a Wazer King, Dave?” You get the title! Well that, and you get to your destination faster, safer, and more predictably. What else do you really need?




By: Dave Nelsen, the "Social Media Guru Guy"

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