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Popular Traffic App Aims to Improve Navigation in Tunnels

Everyone’s had their GPS signal drop out in a tunnel, and the community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze, is finally doing something about it. Tunnels exist in almost every major city, but they also serve as a signal blocker for GPS and radio waves.

Introducing Waze Beacons. These are battery-powered transmitters that use Eddystone—an open Bluetooth system from Google—to send information to any device connected. They are placed throughout the tunnel, the company recommends having 42 beacons for every mile of a tunnel, and don’t use GPS. At $28.50, they are actually cost-effective and the company is encouraging municipalities and private tollway and road organizations to apply via their website.

The technology is “open,” meaning other navigation services can use this service for free. The beacons are able to scan the tunnel and give updated traffic conditions. All a user needs to do is have Bluetooth enabled on his or her phone to connect and use a navigation app that is using the beacon. So, if you are using the Waze app, you’ll have more accurate arrival times, correct directions, and up-to-date conditions.

One of the company’s engineers, Gil Disatnik, was inspired to develop the technology after missing a turn in Boston’s “Tip” O’Neill Tunnel. Being from Boston, I’ve been there, too, Gil. Currently you can find the beacons in tunnels in Pittsburgh and Haifa, and there are plans to launch the program in Paris and Rio de Janeiro soon.

Do you want Waze Beacons in your city’s tunnels? Let us know in the comments section.

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