By Ilan Gattegno/

This column was originally published by Israel Hayom

Click photo to download. The logo for the Israeli-developed navigation application Waze, which could help give Google a social network to rival Facebook, writes Ilan Gattegno. Credit: Waze.

The idea of Israeli-developed Waze was
great, the execution was excellent, the name was catchy, and the application
worked. Fifty million drivers using the application are pleased, and now by
acquiring Waze, Google will not just be getting a navigation application, but a
social network with members all over the world. If Google navigates its use of
Waze correctly, it will finally succeed in creating a social network to rival
Facebook, unlike its failed previous attempts.

Waze’s big advantage as a social
application is that its members receive updates not only from their friends,
which are relatively small in numbers, but from all of the application’s users,
whether they know each other or not. It is also not just Israeli drivers that
are connected, but all drivers in the world that use Waze.

The path of the company’s founders was
clear from the start. Former CEO and now President Uri Levine, whose profile we
published on Jan. 28, 2009, believed from the get-go that his software would
start a revolution not unlike Wikipedia. The formula is simple: A driving
experience based on crowdsourcing, or “user-uploaded content,” which makes
everyday and long-distance drives more efficient. The idea of receiving
information from drivers’ phones, showed just how this kind of data sharing
could happen in real-time.

Additional information layers have been
added to the original traffic layer, like blocked roads (very useful thanks to
this year’s rainy winter), police cars, traffic accidents, cars parked in a
dangerous way on the street, where one can get discounts on gas stations,
stores and in general: everything that numerous other applications tried to
sell us we get here in one reliable, and easy-to-use system. The integration
with Facebook allowed us to share information on our destinations with our
friends, though caution should be taken in case our “friends” are not really
friends, and are waiting for us to leave the house so they can rob it while we
drive somewhere far away. But that option can be turned off, to play it safe.

Ilan Gattegno

Google can expand the data sharing to many
other fields, as it will naturally make use of all the information at its
disposal from its existing maps, Street View service and the rest of its
information layers. As of now it seems Waze is headed toward becoming a global
standard, a real source of pride for Israel.

Ilan Gattegno
is a correspondent and columnist for Israel Hayom

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.

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