Waze: Modern Bayanihan in the Digital Age
The Waze community has grown significantly in the Philippines. There are currently 2.85 million active users on the navigation app, of which 30 are map editors.
These map editors are the unsung champions of the technology community. They have taken the responsibility of maintaining and updating the Waze map, which requires a significant amount of time. These map editors have committed themselves without anything in return but their own personal fulfillment.They make sure that the routing is correct through users’ reports, place submissions, and setting up of road closures and/or restrictions.
Alvin Magno–who already made over 500,000 edits, making him a Level 6 map editor–started editing the Waze map in 2012 by fixing the route from his office to his house and other areas that he frequently visits. Since then, being a Waze map editor has brought him to Thailand to represent the Philippines at the 2017 Waze Global Conference. At the event, Alvin had the opportunity to meet with the top map editors in the region who shared the same passion of editing the map and ensuring that it is as accurate as it can be.
“I work all day and then spend all night editing the map,” Ada shared about her day as a map editor. While working full-time as a physician, Ada also does volunteer work as a Level 5 map editor and a Filipino language coordinator for Waze. Ada started editing maps partly because of her obsessive-compulsive character and the fact that she wanted to compete with her friends for what she called ‘achievements.’ “There are achievements on the Waze app that would give you 200 points for your first map edit and 500 points for resolving 50 map problems. There are also points for the first weekend report and the first report of a map problem, so I reported some routing issues around my workplace.” Eventually, she found herself hooked onto editing and joined a Facebook group for map editors.
Brian Altman, who is a Level 5 map editor, said that his ultimate goal is to keep the area clean. They receive thousands of reports every day and they make sure that it is accurate and free of vandalism. Keeping the map updated is more than just volunteer work for most map editors. “I like the idea of a community that gets together for a common cause and that’s what the Waze community is all about. We meet almost every week where we have fun talking not only about map editing but also our personal lives. On top of that, we also get to meet new people and enjoy the company of each other.”
Map editors also play a significant role in making sure that more features are made available in their local community. For instance, they ensure that 90 percent of the local gas stations are plotted on the map to make the gas price feature available to the Filipino Waze users. “We also lobby with Waze for things that we know the Philippines needs, such as number coding and motorcycle support,” Ada added.
While it does not fall under their responsibility, map editors also play an active role in managing the local community. Through social media platforms, they keep the community posted on matters related to Waze.
“Unfortunately, many Wazer users believe we are customer service representatives with a responsibility to please the customers,” Ada expressed when she was asked about the challenges as a map editor. She appealed to the public to be mindful of the way they communicate.
As a map editor, Ada said her motivation comes from doing something valuable to the community. “I figured, since I can’t do something about the traffic situation directly, I might as well help people to save time by getting them out of traffic faster.”
Today, more Wazers are realizing this same sentiment as the pool of map editors continue to grow. Waze may not be the only answer to the worsening traffic situation, but it can definitely be utilized to come up with solutions, just like how the Waze community is involved in developing the app.