Personality Q&A: Edward Ling, Business Manager of Waze Malaysia

Recently both Shell and Waze teamed up to launch Asia’s first accident-prone spots alerts for Ramadan and Aidilfitri 2017. The pop up on Waze app users will remind them of the 50 most accident-prone spots across Peninsula Malaysia which has been crowdsourced and contributed to provide better safety for drivers all around Malaysia. In light of this partnership, we speak to Edward Ling, Business Manager of Waze Malaysia on this partnership and why Waze commands a lead in navigation for users locally.

 

Please tell us about your collaboration with Shell Malaysia on this Accident Spots-Alert and the aim for this partnership.

In the past we have collaborated with very specific advertising campaigns with Red Bull and Shell. But we decided this year to take the partnership to the next level. There were discussions on safety which was a big thing for Shell. So I was thinking that we could use some Waze data to emphasize this. We have met with government authorities like MIROS and year after year, all the road safety campaigns for Malaysia have not be successful as there have been increasing number of road deaths. We thought that two market leaders should do something since we have the ability to. So we decided to partner in this. We will evaluate the success of the campaign. There is a possibility that we can continue on for the next festive season of the next year.

 

The locations of accidents are based on historical accident data submitted by Waze users. How do you filter the data?

Yes there is a methodology where they aggregate the data and also the quality of it. We have a team which intelligently analyses data, filter out the fake reports and conclude the validation of the top 50 locations based on the volume of accidents. It is not necessarily fatalities which always have been a focus in the past. A lot of people don’t realise that fatalities in vehicles are very serious, but the fact that accidents themselves however minor should be a concern to anyone on the road. That is why we aggregate the majority and all the accidents to come up with the top 50 accident spots. Within the app, we will send you a message or prompt that’s relevant at the time – to drink some coffee, stay focussed, don’t be distracted etc.

 

What does Waze actually do?

You can compare us to traditional GPS systems. But, the advantage for Waze is that we crowdsource for real time traffic. With Waze, as long as you launch your app and you have internet connectivity, it will download all the necessary data. Should you lose connectivity, like driving to a place that’s remote or without much data, the previous downloaded data still remains accurate until you reconnect, and will redownload new updates. One of the misconceptions is that you can’t continue on your journey without data, but this is wrong. As long as you initially fired up the app with a connection, the downloaded data will remain till the following data update. We don’t have any collaborations with telco companies, but there is one that doesn’t charge you for Waze data usage.

 

How do you decide on the importance of updates?

We are a community based app. A lot of feedback we get is from users. There is a group of map editors or any member of the public that chooses to be committed has the access to beta versions of Waze. They have the ability to provide feedback on our next build. So that’s how we’re able to determine which function we should launch first. But having said that, due to the huge number of ideas, we have to prioritise the most important first.

 

Edward Ling, Business Manager of Waze Malaysia with Alex Lim, Marketing Manager for Shell Lubricants Malaysia and Singapore.

Waze’s acquisition by Google in 2013 brings both companies together as strong providers of navigation services. In your opinion, what are the benefits that Waze has over other navigation providers?

The main benefit of Waze is real time traffic. The founders of Waze made the app because they realised that traditional GPS systems just bring you to the fastest and shortest route. But the fastest is not necessarily determined as traditional GPS hardware does not receive any traffic data.We work very closely with Google Maps and provide this data to them which is used to colour roads by traffic conditions. On the other hand, in countries where Waze isn’t popular, we take location information from Maps, which is usually added by the community. It is a cross collaboration which works very well and yet provides individual specific purposes.

Waze is very specific for driving. While Google Maps can also be used for driving, you can also look at hotels, go for a walk, and even call Uber or Grab. We are very committed to drivers and that is what we’ll continue to do.

 

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