Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 13th 2015 Contents The week before Christmas,
to visit a friend and realised that
my last visit, years before, was
but a dim memory.
I called to confirm my recol-
lection of the way to the house,
but got asked the kind of question
I usually ask others.
"Why don't you just use
That prompted some serious
introspection. Why don't I use
It's not as if I don't know what
it is. It's been on my phone for
more than two years, but I've
tended to use it to look at traffic
patterns, not plot my way to des-
tinations, which really is its orig-
First a step back, if you haven't
yet made use of this fascinating
The company describes Waze
on its home page (https://
www.waze.com) as "the world's
largest community-based traffic
and navigation app," but Waze
takes crowdsourcing to a new,
category crushing level.
In an era before Waze, you
bought a GPS finder, loaded it
with maps for the place you were
navigating (there were few for
T&T) and used the intelligent
mapping system to either plot a
course to your destination or be
guided with voice prompts turn
by turn to where you were going.
It was a system that worked
well for countries with detailed
maps available, but it was expen-
sive, because those maps had to
be created and continuously
updated with new information.
Waze flipped the idea upside
down. Instead of a few people
updating maps, why not let all
the users do it?
When smartphone users began
using Waze in T&T, the mapping
was sparse, just the basic infor-
mation you could get from any
satellite based map system.
As the software became more
popular and people began cor-
recting map errors and adding
information, it became not just
more accurate, but more useful.
Which in turn drove a virtuous
cycle, luring more users to down-
load the app, making it even more
Not only does Waze now tell
you where you are going, it offers
information that suggests where
Using fairly crude smartphone
GPS tracking, the software is still
able to guage the speeds of users
while they drive, which in turn
allows it to highlight traffic jams
or slowdowns on local roads and
This is not only useful for
deciding on alternative routes,
it's also a good way to decide
when it makes sense to scrap the
idea of leaving in favour of just
having a Carib instead.
Describing their app and serv-
ice as operating within "the com-
mon good," Waze states on their
Web site that "By connecting
drivers to one another, we help
people create local driving com-
munities that work together to
improve the quality of everyone's
"That might mean helping
them avoid the frustration of sit-
ting in traffic, cluing them in to
a police trap or shaving five min-
utes off of their regular commute
by showing them new routes they
never even knew about."
Given all this, you might be
correct to wonder why anyone
would avoid all this Waze good-
Filmmaker Renee Pollonais
summed up my sentiments in 12
precise minutes in her 2008 short
(http://ow.ly/H7eaC), but it's
something we all know, that
delightful sense of communal
confusion that's prompted by the
simple question, "Do you know
the way to..."
What ensues is generally a
colourful description of the local
landscape, peppered with errant
actual directions and social com-
mentary on the current state of
affairs in the area.
People confuse one corner
with another, call a mango tree
a soursop tree, reference land-
marks that don't exist anymore
and send innocent drivers off on
missions of adventure undreamed
of.Nowhere in T&T is that far
from anywhere else, despite the
efforts of Waze's creators and
users to map every quarter-mile
post, but sometimes, getting art-
fully lost with narratively rich
directions is as much fun as actu-
ally getting there.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 13, 2015
The public is hereby notified
that THE WELCOME FETE
proposes to apply to the
Authority (EMA) for a variation
in accordance with the Noise
Pollution Control Rules 2001
for the Event/Activity
Date of Event/Activity:
Friday 13th February, 2015
Description of Event/Activity:
Address of Event/Activity:
39 Windsor Road North
Duration of Event/Activity:
9.00 p.m to 4.00 a.m
The public is invited to submit
comments within 5 working
days of the publication of this
notice to the EMA.0112039
It s not just about how many steps you ve
taken or how many calories you ve burned
in a day.
Wearable fitness trackers and health monitors
are becoming more commonplace and diverse, but
just what do you do with all of that data?
"We have a lot of people buy wearables and then
stop using them," said Paul Landau, president of
Fitbug, a British maker of fitness trackers.
Landau attended the International CES gadget
show in Las Vegas last week, promoting a series
of 12-week fitness coaching programmes that offer
detailed and custom recommendations for getting
in shape. "If you want to help people," said Landau,
"they've got to have more than just self-tracking."
Health monitors aren't just for fitness buffs.
Startups and big tech companies at the gadget
show promoted all kinds of uses for the data gen-
erated by wearable sensors---from mindfulness
exercises to figuring out the best time to get preg-
nant. Other companies aim to offer value by aggre-
gating data from different sources, so it can be
viewed and interpreted together.
That could be useful, but it also raises a host
of privacy concerns.
"A lot of wearables today are just throwing num-
bers at people. We're looking to synthesise that
data and turn it into an experience," says Jason
Fass of Zepp Labs, a Silicon Valley startup that
makes a tiny, wearable motion sensor for tennis,
baseball and golf enthusiasts.
Zepp has been selling sensors for a year, Fass
said in an interview at CES, but he's hoping weekend
athletes will see more value in Zepp's new smart-
phone app. It shows users an animated analysis
of their swing, and lets them compare their moves
with videos of pro athletes.
The trend goes beyond sports. A Canadian startup
called InteraXon displayed a headset that can meas-
ure brain activity, by tracking electrical impulses.
It connects to an app that provides mental exercises
to relax or focus the mind, but founder Ariel Garten
predicts the technology might be integrated with
other services in the future---to automatically adjust
a wearer's iTunes playlist, for example.
Other exhibitors showed wearable motion sensors
designed for the elderly person who lives alone,
keeping a record of daily activity and sending an
alert to family members if, for example, the wearer
falls, or isn't following his or her usual pattern of
moving around the house. (AP)
A Waze live map for last Sunday morning, showing users on the
move, speed trap submissions by drivers and slow moving traffic in
Cascade. Inset is the user menu for the mobile software.
gather lots of data
...now to make it useful
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