If there is an award for the most horrifically counterproductive software products, "Waze" has to win for 2012. Waze is a smartphone application that offers GPS mapping and turn-by-turn directions to your destination. The routes are automatically updated based on traffic conditions, including data from other Waze users in your area--if another Waze user gets stuck in a traffic jam, the application updates your route accordingly. Waze also encourages users to manually contribute information to other Waze users, including taking a photograph of whatever road ailment you think other drivers ought to know about. These include the traffic jams and accidents, police officers, construction, and a general "hazards" category. The program also features a "Chit chat" function, presumably for a new era of road rage and commiseration.
We all hate traffic. We all want to get to there sooner, faster, easier, while braking as little as possible. But, we have to ask, do we really want drivers around us:
- constantly peeking down at their smartphones for real-time or close to real-time updates, just to save fifteen seconds?
- looking down at their phones and suddenly making last minute turns and lane changes because some other guy with his iPhone reported an unidentified hazard?
- reaching for their phones and attempting to take a picture of road hazards?
- relying on anonymous Waze users posting a picture of a clown in the road and claiming it was taken on I-5?
I hope the answer is a resounding No.