The Waze social mapping app and its 60,000 local, active users are making real-time traffic information available in preparation for the craziness that will ensue with the Super Bowl, Phoenix Open and Pro Bowl.
I’m not fussed about the Super Bowl, sorry, I’m an All Black fan. But I am fussed about the price of petrol, even more so now that oil prices have dropped, and while petrol prices at the pump have dropped, there are significant differences between suburbs in the price offered.
Organizations like the NZ Automobile Association have sites like Petrol Watch http://bit.ly/1BG6zMQ but it doesn’t help when you are out on the road and needing gas. My trusty TomTom will tell me where the nearest gas station is, but not what their price is.
We don’t have many Waze users here and most of them don’t share things like petrol pricing, even though they can. Yesterday when I was out driving from the international airport back into town I noted many clusters of gas stations, in some cases 3 on one intersection, all advertising the same price, which was more than 20 cents (a liter! that’s 90 cents a gallon) dearer than suburban gas stations not more than 5km away.
There were many more similar sites, which is quite normal in New Zealand, where all gas stations within a few hundred meters of each other charge the same price. I’m assuming the psychology is that (I would never suggest collusion) customers will think everyone is being charged the same price and therefore there is no point in looking elsewhere.
When I was involved in Point of Sale for the petrol industry many years ago, we tried to get petrol stations to compete with each other, for example opposite sides of the road and typically in the opposite direction to the main traffic flow (I wouldn’t suggest that with the work I’m doing today!) would have a lower price.
So today, people tell each other petrol prices by texting each other, on Twitter and on Facebook. The problem with unofficial information sharing, which isn’t moderated, the information could be incorrect by the time you receive it, causing more frustration. So go for it Waze, if it gets you more users, so .much the better