The Israeli start up Waze, which created a crowd driven navigation system with worldwide popularity, is set to have its technology purchased by Google.

Waze, an Israeli start-up that was founded in 2009, is set to be bought by Google for a price tag exceeding $1 billion in cash, Haaretz reported. Evidently, many internet giants were impressed with what Waze had to offer, since there was also stiff competition from Facebook until Waze settled on Google, partially because Waze didn’t want their staff to be forced to relocate to California. Waze is set to maintain its status as both an independent company and a brand, despite the deal.

Waze has developed one of the most popular navigation applications on the international market. It offers applications for smartphones and vehicle systems for navigating roads, offering drivers the possibility to avoid traffic jams, road accidents, the police, speed cameras, and other road hazards. It also gives drivers the opportunity to communicate with other drivers on the road. Presently, 47 million people utilize its maps.

According to Think Innovation, “Waze differs from traditional GPS navigation software as it is a community-driven application and learns from users’ driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It is also free to download and use, as it gathers map data and other information from users who use the service. Waze is available for download and use anywhere in the world, but some countries have a full basemap, whereas other countries still require users to record the roads and edit the maps.”

Think Innovation claims that currently Waze has a complete base map in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel (claimed to be the best map for that country), Ecuador, (parts of) Argentina, and Panama, but the company has plans to make it available in other countries as well. Additionally, “Waze simultaneously sends anonymous information, including your speed and location, back to its database to improve the service as a whole. This crowd-sourcing allows the Waze community to report navigation and mapping errors and traffic accidents simply by running the app while driving.”

Think Innovation reports, “Waze uses cupcakes and other gaming conventions to further engage users, allowing users to drive over icons of cupcakes and other road goodies located in certain locations to earn points. The mini-games encourage more user involvement and competition, and that means more valuable road information for the users and the database where those details are otherwise slim or lacking.”

Mapping services are among the top-five applications utilized today on smart phones. “Whoever holds the mapping data is going to be a hot commodity,” Brian Proffitt, an adjunct instructor of management in the University of Notre Dame, reported to Haaretz. “As larger vendors acquire mapping data, businesses and consumers will discover that it’s more difficult to gain free access and correct errors.”

Google’s latest purchase is part of Google’s strong connection to Israel. Besides having headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the past, Google executives have met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, acknowledged Israeli contributions to technological innovation, and launched a street view of Israel.

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel

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