Crowd-sourcing on holiday


While I was in Israel on holiday, I used FourSquare a reasonable amount (basically, whenever I could get free Wifi access, because data roaming charges are prohibitively expensive). A number of friends over there had heard of FourSquare, but I didn’t come across anyone who actually used it.

Despite none of my friends having heard of it, almost everywhere we visited was already listed. This made me think that perhaps FourSquare has a similar crawler to search engines, which is constantly looking for business names and addresses, and placing them within the FourSquare database.

A site that is much bigger than FourSquare in Israel is Waze (pronounced ‘Ways’). Waze is 99% a free mobile app (iPhone, Android and Blackberry), which runs all the time, and as you drive along, it plots the roads you travel on. It also takes note of your speed.

You can then add police speedcheck areas, cameras, accidents and so on. This enables other Waze users to use their app to plan a route, and then see the virtually-live traffic on that route, as well as police speed traps, etc.

Waze is a really clever use of crowd-sourcing technology, put to use for a real purpose. Quite how they will make money I’m not so sure.

I downloaded Waze when I was back from holiday, and the app warned me that it had only just launched in the UK, so most roads and details still weren’t collected yet. 

Maybe so, however most of the side roads near my home were already in the system, so it’s probably exploding at a quicker pace than even Waze realise.

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