How could Big Data help improve transport in LatAm?

Waze helps save time in traffic, but could also help measure the impact of transportation projects in Latin America.

Each interaction with Waze collects data that allows having updated information about traffic in the city. However, these data are not only useful to drivers but also to transport agencies, first aid services, and urban planners.

Waze, an Israeli startup, went on the market in 2006 and Google bought it in 2013. The application collects data in real time through “crowdsourcing,” a method of mass collaboration among users.

Patricia Yáñez-Pagans, an economist of the strategy and development department of BID Invest, explains how this collaboration between users generates big data that can be used to evaluate the impact of transport projects financed by Grupo Bid.

“Thanks to our partnership with the Waze Connected Citizens Program, we have access to real-time anonymous information on traffic congestion and other transport events throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,” says Patricia Yáñez-Pagans on the blog of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Sustainable transport, a challenge for LAtAm

Latin America is a highly urbanized region. 80% of the population lives in cities and has one of the highest motorization rates in the world (176 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants), which surpasses Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Therefore, sustainable transport is a priority issue.

Previous solutions to mobility problems were carried out with surveys at home and with small samples of the population that had several issues, such as being very expensive, based on the family when the mobility is given by individual and only contributed information of an average day.

“Access to Waze data opens the door to new opportunities for measuring impact and guiding future investments in transportation,” says Yáñez-Pagans.

Several cities in Latin America are currently committed to integrating technological solutions to solve the different problems presented by urban areas in the region. In the last Smart City Expo, about 350 cities were part of the event.