Safaricom & Google launch new Mobile Traffic App ‘Waze’ in Kenya

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Telecommunications service provider Safaricom (NSE: SCOM) has partnered with Google to locally launch mobile application Waze, that offers motorists access to accurate and real-time traffic information, based on crowd-sourced data from other road users.

Waze is a free GPS-based mobile application that is already use in other countries as a traffic information tool. It collates information generated by other users on the same route, to gather information on accidents, impassable sections of the road route, traffic jams, which is then used to provide the end user with advice on potential alternative routes.

“Mobile technology has evolved from being just a tool that enables interpersonal communication to being a value-added solution in many sectors. Safaricom is keen to continue to extend the benefits of our more connected world to our subscribers as we work to transform their lives by putting them closer to critical information,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director, Consumer Business at Safaricom.

Using voluntary feedback from subscribers on the Safaricom network, Waze provides the user with a view of a map that has been layered onto Google Maps. The maps provide real time updates on road conditions, and depending on the situation, the app can suggest alternative routes for users to take in order to get to their destination faster.

The partnership between Safaricom and Google comes on the back of the announcement that Safaricom is planning to extend its 4G network to 15 major towns, and increase its 3G coverage countrywide.

“Partnering with like-minded organizations adds more value to our ambition to make people’s lives simpler. Traffic information on Waze, which is updated in real time, will save users the hassle of enormous amounts of time spent in traffic by offering alternative routes,” said Charles Murito, Country Manager, Google Kenya.

Other companies and applications that have so far sought to offer traffic update assistance in and around Nairobi, and other select cities across Kenya include Access Kenya‘s Traffic Camera feeds available online, Ma3Route Twitter handle and Application as well as IBM Research. Ma3Route is by far the largest crowd-sourcing Traffic Updates app in the country, averaging about 300,000 users. Waze is available on the Android or iOS App Stores. Upon downloading and activating the program, customers will only be required to enter details of their destination to access traffic information. If enabled, the devices can passively contribute similar information for other road users by continuing to run as a background application. Acquired by Google in 2013, Waze is already used by 4.4 million motorists in 200 countries.

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