HomeNewsBusinessCultureHealthVideoNewsletter

How Israeli App Waze Helped FEMA Manage Gas Shortage After Sandy

With rampant gas shortage following Hurricane Sandy, FEMA and the White House turned to crowd-sourced navigation app Waze to help deliver gasoline fueling truck

By: Ryan Kim
Published: November 13th, 2012 in Business » World
Israeli app Waze helped users and FEMA understand where the demand was greatest.

Close to 30 million mobile app users turn to Waze to tap its crowd-sourced data for car directions. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the White House saw an opportunity to use the app in a new way, following widespread gas shortages due to Hurricane Sandy.

The government agencies called up Waze Friday night and asked for help in figuring out where to send gasoline trucks in New Jersey. Since many gas stations were out of power or were unable to open, the challenge became understanding where to send the fuel and who needed it most.

Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze’s VP of platforms and partnerships, told me that within an hour, Waze had a simple system up and running that allowed users who visited a gas station to get a system message that allowed them to report the conditions there. The users were able to leave a chit-chat message explaining if there was gas available, how the lines were and how long the wait was. The Waze app also displayed pins on its maps for local gas stations that were open.

Waze relayed hundreds of chit-chats back to both FEMA and the White House and sent the data along to Google’s Crisis Maps, which collected disaster resource information. After opening up a line of communication with New Jersey residents, Waze heard from users in Staten Island and Long Island, who also complained of gas shortages. Waze then expanded its reporting program Saturday night to those affected areas and turned over that information to the government, helping them target more gas stations.

Eisnor said it’s unlikely that the government would have turned to Waze even a year ago. But after growing rapidly to about 30 million users, up from 13 million users six months ago, the app has sufficient reach to mobilize people and gather good data.

“We did not think there would be a fuel shortage and FEMA would need to talk to the Waze community but I think it’s a given now that a problem like this needs to be crowdsourced and government and citizens need to work together,” said Eisnor.

She said there are more opportunities for systems such as Waze to work with government agencies on tasks like relaying Amber Alerts or routing traffic around trouble spots. Waze, she said, will likely work on how to pass data directly on to the government during emergencies instead of relying on people at the company to do that.

Eisnor was also pleased at the response from users, who are becoming more attuned to the idea of assisting each other and giving back to the greater good through crowd-sourced tools. In future crisis situations, having a widely used platform and a willing group of users could play an even bigger role in restoring order, gathering information or providing need.

“Everyone was just helping each other out. Things can change when people are involved in massively-scaled crowd participation,” Eisnor said.

This article was first published in GigaOm.

Related articles: Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane, New York, New Jersey, FEMA, Waze, Israel, Application
0 times
How Israeli App Waze Helped FEMA Manage Gas Shortage After

With rampant gas shortage following Hurricane Sandy, FEMA and the White House turned to crowd-sourced navigation app Waze to help deliver gasoline fueling truck

Holocaust Survivor Tailors an American Success Story

Martin Greenfield’s tailoring business has taken him to the White House

Israel and the U.S. Sign New Telecommunications Pact

Agreement will make it easier for U.S. companies to sell in the Jewish state

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Job Secure?

Media and Wall Street discuss whether Zuckerberg should be blamed for Facebook’s disastrous IPO

Peter Thiel Jumps the Facebook Ship

Early Facebook investor and board memeber sells nearly all his stock

Getty Images Publishes Image of Jewish Boy Peeing in Airport

Photo distributor circulates then removes odd photo

How Israeli App Waze Helped FEMA Manage Gas Shortage After

With rampant gas shortage following Hurricane Sandy, FEMA and the White House turned to crowd-sourced navigation app Waze to help deliver gasoline fueling truck

Holocaust Survivor Tailors an American Success Story

Martin Greenfield’s tailoring business has taken him to the White House

Israel and the U.S. Sign New Telecommunications Pact

Agreement will make it easier for U.S. companies to sell in the Jewish state

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Job Secure?

Media and Wall Street discuss whether Zuckerberg should be blamed for Facebook’s disastrous IPO

Peter Thiel Jumps the Facebook Ship

Early Facebook investor and board memeber sells nearly all his stock

Getty Images Publishes Image of Jewish Boy Peeing in Airport

Photo distributor circulates then removes odd photo

news_scroll_down
OUR FACEBOOK FANS
Blogs
Take Responsibility for Your Own

The 19 year old sophomore sat on the exam table looking at the floor. A college student with obvious charm

The Stanford Prison Experiment at

In 1971, researchers set up a prison in the basement of Stanford University’s Psychology Department. The idea was to

U.S. vs. Europe: Health Care

As I have tried to make abundantly clear the United States is the only country in the industrialized world that

Hands Off America

Alright, that does it.Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans have been willing to do their part for

Fat Returns After Liposuction …

A study appeared in a journal titled “Obesity” which was reported by a group from the University of Colorado. In

What does Victory Look Like?

Sixty-five years ago today, World War II officially came to an end. On September 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Minister

Share This Story With Your Friends!

Your Name:

Friend’s Name:

E-Mail:

Friend’s E-Mail:

(This information will not be displayed publicly)

Optional Message: