Safaricom, Google app deal to help motorists avoid gridlock

Global IT giant Google has partnered with telecoms company Safaricom to launch an interactive mobile application service that offers motorists access to real-time traffic information.

The mobile app known Waze is a free GPS-based platform currently in use in 200 countries including Australia, India, Malaysia and South Africa. It offers traffic information that is picked automatically from other road users.

Nancy Matimu, Safaricom’s head of Internet and Content, said the app would enable Safaricom to increase the frequency of data usage among its customers.

“The partnership ensures that we give our customers value addition that can transform their lives and enable them to use their data bundles more frequently through the smart devices they own,” Ms Matimu told the Business Daily in a telephone interview. 

Waze is available on the Android or iOS App Stores. On downloading and activating the app, customers are required to enter details of their destination to access traffic information.

The platform takes on a locally developed mobile, web and SMS platform application known as Ma3Route that also picks signals from motorists to provide users with information on traffic, matatu directions and bad driving reports.

Unlike, the Ma3Route, 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.

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Safaricom is investing in fibre optics infrastructure with the intention of extending its 4G footprint to 15 major towns, and 3G coverage countrywide, with the hopes that such application and availability of smart devices would accelerate the uptake of the broadband bandwidth.

The partnership leverages on the fact that there are over 11 million data subscribers on the network who access the Internet through their phones.

It collates information generated by other users on the same route, to gather information on accidents, impassable sections and traffic jams, which is then used to give subscribers aice on potential alternative routes.

“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 manager, Google Kenya.

“Using a traffic bar, the application will calculate the amount of time spent in the jam and update your progress as you move along.

“At the same time you will also receive information generated by other motorists.”