Google wants access to Winnipeg traffic data to power its Waze app

​Winnipeg is poised to sign a deal with Google to allow the the tech giant to access real-time traffic information and share it through its Waze app.

Montreal among cities that have already granted Google access to real-time traffic info

Google wants access to Winnipeg traffic data to help empower its Waze app. (Doug Trent/CBC)

​Winnipeg is poised to sign a deal with Google to allow the the tech giant to access real-time traffic information and disseminate it through its Waze app. 

City transportation managers are seeking council approval to allow the 311 system, the transportation management centre and public works crews to give Google access to information about traffic accidents, lane closures, traffic congestion and other hazards.

Waze, which functions like another layer of Google Maps, already accesses traffic information from Montreal, Los Angeles and other North American cities.

The free app gathers information from both official sources and its users, transportation manager Luis Escobar wrote in a report that came before council's public works committee on Monday.

"Waze differs from traditional GPS navigation software in that it is community-driven: gathering complementary map data and traffic information from its users. Like other GPS software, it learns from users' driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates," Escobar wrote. 

"People can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and lane closures. By connecting drivers to one another, Waze helps people create local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone's daily driving."

Escobar is proposing a one-year deal that can be renewed automatically or cancelled by either party. There are no financial implications associated with the deal, he wrote.

In a separate report to council, public works is requesting an additional $660,000 from the city to complete its transportation management centre.

That project now has a $3.7-million budget. The additional money is needed to conduct "unforeseen work" required to modify public works' traffic signals branch building on Elgin Avenue as well as to cover the rising cost of equipment whose price has been affected by the Canada-U.S. dollar exchange rate.


Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.