Waze, Rio de Janeiro, and the Olympic Games - Speech at Google Paris

03/11/2016 by pablo.cerdeira@gmail.com

After Bogotá and Lisbon, finally in Paris for a presentation at the Google Paris HQ, in the Waze Connected Citizens Summit 2016.

In 2013, Rio de Janeiro became the first city in the World to sign a partnership to use and to share data with Waze. Now, the Waze Connected Citizens Program - CPP (link) has more than 175 affiliates all around the World. Our presentation was focused on the history of this partnership and, of course, on how great Waze was for the success of the Olympic Games. We used Waze data and the Waze Community to plan the traffic and to share traffic changes in real-time with the citizens.

The partnership

I talked about the history of the partnership among Rio de Janeiro City Hall and Waze; how we learn to use their data to plan our city traffic better; and how, after some experience, we learned how useful this data can be not only for traffic but also to design public policies for the entire city, in a long run. Waze data can be used to plan new dump sites, to create a rank of flood spots priority, to decide where and how much should the Government spent to fix traffic jams and so on.

Driving inside a bubble

Cities are considered one of our greatest inventions, according to Edward Glaeser (Harvard), because it allowed us to be more efficient and rational regarding resources usage. In almost every aspect of the urban life, except when we are driving. We are still selfish and nonrational while driving. We are still so unsocial driving that we are almost replacing human drivers by self-driven cars; as we did in factories, replacing persons per robots to tight screws.

Bursting the bubble

Our experience shows, as confirmed by a study developed by Marta Gonzalez, from MIT, that Waze has already changed driver’s habits in some cities.

That is one of the hidden advantages of using a social network to build closer relation among drivers and between the drivers and the City Hall. It can help us to burst the bubble around us when we are driving. We are no longer alone while inside our cars. We can now send and receive information for and from other drivers, and for and from the city administration.

Data, transparency and open state

Furthermore, we are using social apps to make Rio’s government more transparent and more democratic. I had the opportunity to be with the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, Juan Manuel Santos, in Bogotá, a few days ago. According to him, we should be fighting for an open state; we should be striving for a state that negotiates with the actors of society in a transparent and grounded way.

I believe we shall use social apps to take political decisions. I think we should use social apps to listen to the citizens and to respond to its requests in real-time. That is what we are doing with Waze here in Rio.

Waze and the Olympic

André Ormond, the CET-RIO’s Traffic Data Manager presented all the systems and analysis developed by us, the PENSA Team (website), the CET-RIO and the Operation Center (Dario Marques), to manage the traffic during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Here you can see the complete presentation:

Pablo Cerdeira is the Head of the Center of Technology and Society - CTS/FGV and the former Rio de Janeiro's Chief Data Office