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City of Asheville Partners with Waze for a Better Commute

Credit City of Asheville
Asheville drivers can now get city road closure information on the Waze travel app

The Waze travel app gives directions and also allows users to report traffic conditions and road hazards that alert other drivers.  But unless that information is updated, and most drivers have no idea how long a roadblock will be in place, it eventually goes away.  Cities and counties however, do know, and now the city of Asheville is integrating its road closure information into the app through the Waze Connected Citizens program.  Christen McNamara is a GIS programmer analyst with the city.

“Something really cool, is we’ll have some information behind those closures so if there’s a lane closure, it will say what is going on, like there is electrical line work ahead, so there will be some information that’s interesting, but also, everybody wants to know why,” says McNamara.

HC: Especially when you are sitting in traffic.     

Credit WCQS
Asheville Geographic Information Systems Programmer Analyst Christen McNamara worked with Traffic Engineering Technician Ted Williams to provide Waze with Asheville traffic information.

McNamara says the idea was sparked last spring during a planning discussion about the River Arts District Improvement project.

“We knew there was going to be some traffic implications, you know, lane closures, things like that, so we wanted to get this information out to the public, says McNamara, “but instead of having people come to the city website, we thought, why can’t we get this to the people through something they already use, like the Waze app?”

McNamara and City Traffic Engineer Ted Williams tested the program, which is free to the city, for about six months before it went live.   Users don’t have to push any special buttons, the official road closure information is integrated automatically,

“Another thing that’s cool about our partnership is that we are also going to receive data.  As users are putting in points for potholes and traffic information, Waze is going to give us all of that information so that we can use it in our planning.”

For now, city officials hope the extra information will make driving in Asheville a little more enjoyable.

For WCQS news, I’m Helen Chickering

The Waze app does not replace the City of Asheville’s web map. Road closure information will still be posted on the City’s website.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.