Last year, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a data-sharing partnership with Waze, the traffic app owned by Google that allows Boston’s drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to check real time traffic conditions on Boston’s streets. It's a great program and something Apple should implement.
The Boston-Waze partnership is designed to help improve traffic flow in Boston in two principal ways. First, the city will be able to share information on expected road closures with the 400,000 users of Google's in Greater Boston, helping them find the best way to get around town.
Second, aggregated information on traffic reported by Waze users will be shared with the City's Traffic Management Center (TMC). This helps the City engineers adjust our 550 signalized intersections across the City, so that traffic can flow better.
"Over the past few weeks, it has become clear how critical it is to find innovative ways to improve traffic flow in the City of Boston," said Mayor Walsh in a press release. "I thank Google for their partnership in providing us with another way to use data to better improve how City government works."
Imagine if Apple could do something along these lines with its Maps app for Mac OS X and iOS. The app still needs lots some work, but Apple seems to be improving it quickly.
And it’s widely used. Apple told the Associated Press that its Maps app is now used more than three times as often as its next leading competitor (that would be Google Maps) on iPhones and iPads, with more than five billion map-related requests each week. comScore says Maps has a “modest lead” over Google on iPhones in the U.S., though the research group measures how many people use a service in a given month rather than how often.
Building on Maps’ growing popularity, Apple could work out partnerships involving its app and municipalities as Google has with Boston. It would be great for Apple, good PR for Maps, and a nice portent of the future if Apple goes this route.