Frank Bravo commutes every day from San Carlos to Palo Alto. To cut down on those days when traffic is bad, Frank's been using a free app called Waze. Waze tells you where the traffic jams are and how to get around them. And it does it by gathering real-time GPS data from its millions of users as they drive.
"We have a community of 10 million drivers that are responsible for helping us collect all of that information. So it's all driven by the crowd, all created by the crowd," said Waze Vice President Di-Ann Eisnor.
Eisnor thinks of it as a win-win. Drivers agree to share their GPS coordinates with fellow users -- in exchange for a free turn-by-turn navigation service that gets more accurate as more people use it.
"It's 100 percent a community and people know that all they have to do is open the application and drive with it -- and they're contributing to the information that everybody else gets," said Eisnor.
Waze works on pretty much any newer smartphone or tablet with a GPS receiver. So that means pretty much any Android device, newer models of the BlackBerry, the iPhone, and 3G models of the iPad.
Frank uses Waze on an iPhone -- mounted in a suction cup holder so he can keep both hands on the wheel. You should never type while driving -- in fact, Waze won't let you -- because it's dangerous and illegal. But if you're parked, or you're a passenger, you can report traffic problems.
"I can say that it's moderate traffic and send, and now it has put an alert there," said Bravo.
Those alerts help other drivers and they help ABC7 News traffic give you the most accurate and detailed reports. City streets and back roads have always been a challenge for traffic reporters. Traditional traffic maps rely on underground speed sensors usually only found on freeways.
ABC7's Frances Dinglasan is using Waze to report the missing information.
"Right now the thing I'm most excited about is just taking the driver down to the street level, especially if there's an incident," said Dinglasan.
Incident reports on Waze are up to the second. And if you join the ABC7 News Traffic Spotters group on Waze, we'll mention you on the air when your report helps us out.
"The more ABC7 News traffic spotters we have, the more reliable the information will be," said Dinglasan.