Mobile technologies and in particular, those services that take advantage of crowd-sourcing information are particularly valuable in times of crisis. Case in point, what happens when your area is subjected to torrential rains and flooding and you have no idea where to turn for up-to-the-minute reports and conditions of roads and infrastructure. Enter Waze, the free, crowd-sourced navigation service. Indeed one can get directions and routing from waze, however, what truly sets it apart from other similar services is the user community. Waze (waze.com or @waze on Twitter) depends on the users to act as sensors, providing drive time data and road segment updates to the service, enabling the waze street database to be constantly evolving and being updated. Then toss in the community element, that’s the real wow factor! Using waze, users can view and share real-time traffic conditions, details of obstacles, road closures and more… updates are also shared via various social media outlets like Twitter. I recently heard from some users in Tennessee about how Waze helped during the past week-end during some severe weather and massive flood conditions. Using mobile Geo technologies the user received data and reports of conditions that were more up to date and accurate than any other sources!
One user’s story of how GIS and mobile mapping technologies helped to navigate safely during the storms getting from Nashville, TN to Arkansas…
“I finally made it home from Nashville, TN late last night. It took a few hours to be able to find a route out of the city. There are a lot of people trapped and as of yesterday over 20 people had already died due to the floodwaters. Saturday, we were in downtown Nashville, driving around in the rain, trying to take pictures. This morning most of the downtown area has been evacuated. We ended up having to drive through water in several location, just trying to get out of town just to trapped by more water. All major Interstates and Highways throughout the city have been shutdown. Thanks to GIS technologies, Google Maps Traffic, Waze, TDOT’s website, and Verizon Broadband access, we were able to use the laptop to find alternate side roads that had minimal low lying areas. Just an FYI, the road closures were updated on Waze faster than anything else. We stayed in the Best Western directly across the street from the Opryland Hotel which had to be evacuated yesterday. Once we left our hotel about 9:30 yesterday all routes back to it were underwater. It had gotten to the point where we thought we would have to stay in Nashville, but all hotels were either booked, had no power or flooded. So we decided to keep trying to get home. Our route ended up taking us up into Kentucky, across to Missouri, then down into Arkansas. ”
Thanks to @LearonDalby for sharing details