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Users of the Waze navigation app has been complaining the app has not been its usual crazy self recently, and instead of routing them round traffic jams, it has instead sent them directly into the middle of them.
The issue has been particularly acute in Israel, where Waze originates, and Waze CEO Guy Berkowitz has admitted that there is a problem.
“We have a problem with the algorithm. The more people we serve, the more it’s affected. The coronavirus has put us in a situation where we have to reinvent our algorithm.”
The issue is that the huge fluctuations in traffic caused by lockdowns has rendered historical traffic data useless. Some of the data were collected during lockdown when there was barely any traffic, and are now having to cope with a massive rebound in traffic as people move to cars and avoid public transport.
Berkowitz said, “The history of the road – which is part of our algorithm – no longer reflects reality. Think of a road whose history shows that there are no traffic jams, and today it is full. So the coronavirus has killed our history and the algorithms need to change and give much more weight to what is happening in real time – and this is not always true, because the way we direct you is not necessarily the short or fast way, but the Waze way.”
Waze is hoping to rebalance its algorithm to concentrate more on immediate rather than historical traffic data, but I imagine this will bring its own problems. Waze says the issue mainly affects Israel, but in my experience, the issue is much more widespread.
Have any of our readers received wonky results from Waze? Let us know in the comments below.