Waze announces the end of the car driver and the advent of the passenger era

by bold-lichterman

In 15 years, there will be no more drivers, only passengers in cars. This is the shattering announcement made by Waze very recently, casually, in the sun. Story of a morning like no other.

But what did Fej Shmuelevitz, brilliant Waze engineer – from his official title Vice President of Operations and Community – do at the VIP B2B E-commerce One to One event (URL link to https: // www.ecommerce1to1.com ) which took place at the end of March in Monaco?

In the opening plenary, in front of the elite of electronic commerce players, this intervention entitled “The future of mobility” wanted to surprise. Because if logistics and the last mile of delivery are still the puzzle of the “caddy men” of e-commerce, the highlighting of the former Israeli start-up – little thumb that has become a centerpiece in the Google chessboard – Alphabet since 2013 – by the organizer ComExposium… means that the new entrants to e-commerce are no longer there where they are expected.

For the record, let’s remember that quietly, but effectively, in a few years, the ogre Waze has supplanted GPS and other online mapping systems for the urban driver.

In France, the app now has 9.4 million active motorists monthly (Médiamétrie figures) and 2 million vehicles using it. She has built a lion’s share that very few challengers today seem to be able to steal from her.

It is also without counting the VTCs and other deliverers who inform Waze … Because the user of the app is its main contributor free of charge: “I offer you the data and you deliver the service to me”. This is the implicit refrain of the Lion King in the jungle of city streets around the world with 100 million active drivers who are followers of the small sympathetic car with the logo.

It is the driver who draws the map of the city with his GPS

“10 years ago, the iPhone was born. 10 years ago, I joined Waze and the mobility revolution ”. On stage, Fej Shmuelevitz’s first words resonate like a boxing guru in the premium category. “Of course, Steve Jobs is no longer here, but we have Elon Musk.”

Behind this lyrical epic, we expect prophecies in “certainty” mode, but the man with the look of a developer changes his mind to talk to us about mobility issues in a more down to earth way: “In Manila, 10 kilometers = 40 journey minutes ”.

“It’s not better in Paris” grumbles my neighbor from behind, sunk in the very comfortable chair in the auditorium of the Grimaldi Forum. However, in the capital, it takes an average of 20 minutes to cover 10 kilometers. Rest assured, in France, there are 20% more individual vehicles over the last 20 years with an average age of 4 wheels of 9 years. The automobile is king in the cities; until when ?

Because, if the car according to our geek made in Google, has become as easy as buying a smartphone (Editor’s note: we talk about how to buy and not a price comparison); designer, design, manufacture and market a automobile takes a long time… 8 years! Elon Musk and his delays on the manufacturing and deliveries of Tesla are no longer summoned at this precise moment.

In “Once upon a Waze” mode, our friend Fej explains how the application aggregates so much useful information for its users (but obviously also for its advertisements… Shhh!). “It’s easy to understand, a point of GPS = 1 meter” and month after month, we see on the screen the outlines of the streets of a city in the former Eastern Europe appear before our stupid eyes . It is not a map of urban roads that emerges, but of the veins and arteries of journeys. Truly impressive, this flood of data sketching out the territories.

The “Wikipedia for Drivers”: Really?

“Obviously, the map is incomplete, always incomplete”, emphasizes the speaker on the fly, because 10 to 15% of roads change each year in the world, hence the importance of having recourse to the community of 500,000 contributors. and “worrying about drivers above all else” with a significant result of 15 million corrections on the platform every month.

“Waze is the Wikipedia of drivers”: the sentence is dropped by Fej. It will arouse online, on Twitter, a strong reaction from internet aficionados of the free world. However, if the purpose of the app is commercial, the animation of the Waze community of contributors is modeled in many ways on the global encyclopedic project. “We listen carefully to the community and they are an integral part of the product.”

Based on meetings on 5 continents (70 meet ups per year), a wink wiki called Wazeopedia (“for the community, by the community”… How beautiful!) And a giant forum , the map editors are having a blast. They thus obtain badges, climb 6 levels, and are assigned territorial areas of responsibility on the world map. Video game-like rewards for “power” egos, because gamification permeates the lives of these participants informing Waze.

It works strong, very strong even. Contributors appreciate being recognized for their contributions. They possess and acquire expertise in the cartographic field. It often happens that they go to specific locations in the field to correct “points of interest” in the application. “Their recognition is ultimately having a better version of the app. Waze is like a game, ”he adds; an endless game?

Waze: emergency and circumstantial app… who knows before the rescue services?

Reality often catches up with fiction. Did the creators of Waze imagine that suddenly, in the fall of 2012, on the occasion of the dramatic Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast of the United States, the app could be used by its user-contributors to report the stations- service still open with precious fuel? Even the White House recognized it!

Since this episode, awareness is effective, because as the providential speaker said on stage “a city is a community of connected people” and the slides then decline, partnerships with local authorities with a respective supply of data. “This can be the case to visualize the traffic in real time as during a run in Versailles” but also during emergency devices where an accident can be spotted by the app 4 minutes before the emergency services don’t learn it. Yes: 63% of callers to emergency numbers do not know exactly where they are in the event of a real problem.

The future of mobility: cars as sensors

“Every automobile today is a sensor”. It understands, requests, stores and is a source of data; a real smartphone on wheels. However, the vehicle itself is a concern in our urban world: it is only used 4% of the time, takes up a lot of space.

In the city, roads occupy 7% of the territory, car parks, 14%, or almost as much as shops (18%).
Objective number 1 for local authorities: to make traffic more fluid and remove traffic jams.

The end of car drivers… for in 15 years

Key phrase of the morning at E-Commerce One to One. Dixit Waze: “Children who are today under 5 will not have a license, will not drive and will not have a car”. In short, drivers become passengers, self-driving cars oblige and the automobile, a service like any other!

The development of second-hand cars, car-sharing and rental sound obvious: why still own a vehicle full-time?

Behind this shocking message, the idea is to reflect on the evolution of the uses of the car. The trend is heavy and tenacious like a pit bull: we now sell more trips and uses of a vehicle than the appropriation of 4 wheels.

Job – Auto – Data

With its service, Waze Carpool (in other words carpooling), we then better understand the interest of seizing the ball on the rebound of the transition from a driver’s economy to a passenger economy. Business is business. We must endeavor to facilitate the meeting of drivers and passengers in short urban journeys; a “matching” to travel on a daily basis with people from your neighborhood to your workplace.

Admittedly, the firm attached to Google is not the only one in this “commuter” market (cf. BlaBlaCar, iDvroom, Wayzup or Karos), but it has a great advantage in its pocket: “the understanding of this algorithm and these data: how people move in cities with their vehicles within a perimeter of 40 kilometers. So it can be used for autonomous cars ”.

The dedicated Waze Carpool application is already operating in California, Israel, is being launched in Brazil and if we listen at the doors, it is rumored that the service could see the light of day in France in large cities from 2019.

Carpooling and personalization: the ideal couple

Faithful to his way of iterating in developments, the engineer Fej is not stingy with the transformations underway in this new service: “We have a new version based more on personalization. We have thus realized that women prefer to carpool with women for safety reasons. In parallel, we have developed a service oriented for employees in companies, especially for employees of the same company who live in the neighborhood and can take the same mode of transport. Also, because parking is a problem for businesses; a source of costs for organizations ”.

Rehabilitate neighborhood advertising

If the mobile revolution (smartphone) is well underway, that of mobility (in modes of transport) is not left out. Waze, like many data-based services, black gold of the 21st century (in conjunction with algorithms), tries to combine the useful with the pleasant to display local and neighborhood advertisements “mobile to store” in other words in the language of Molière “from the mobile to the physical point of sale”.

“We are a digital automotive advertising medium and the only advertising company that, because of your trip, allows you to display personalized advertising. by taking your journey into account in real time ”.

From mobile media to mobility sensor media

Yes, it’s clear … It gives food for thought in terms of positioning: this type of application, which is at the same time media, management / vector and advertising broadcaster, does it not speed up to, definitely, leave the parking agencies of communication and traditional advertising already badly handled?

Who will stay in the parking lot or go to the scrapyard? Isn’t this the perfect moment to turn on your warnings and honk your horn in order to open your eyes to the lane to adopt: highway? National or departmental?

You choose. Just take the right business turn to avoid the dead end.

The contributor:

Writing for the Web in 2018 What Ideal Toolkit

Jean-Luc Raymond is Senior Social Media Manager. He advises large companies, institutions and non-governmental organizations on their online presence strategy. It deals with professional digital trends and uses on his blog.