(Globes (Tel Aviv) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 01--GPS navigation software has greatly improved drivers' orientation on the road, and navigation apps, including the app of Israel's Waze Ltd., have greatly improved traffic reports. Researchers from the social networks IT security group at Ben Gurion University of the Negev have found that location-based social networks, especially Waze, can help prevent traffic accidents.
Waze is an application which provides, in addition to navigation, information about traffic congestion, police cars, traffic accidents, and safety hazards on the road. The information is distributed via a social network format: application members supply the relevant information. According to Waze, it has 28 million registered members worldwide, including four million in Israel.
The researchers claim, based on analysis of location-based social networks, that it is possible to identify dangerous intersections where traffic accidents occur daily. They also found that in some areas with extensive police coverage there were not always reports of traffic accidents.
The study is based on data collected from Waze for over a month. The researchers analyzed the data to map the location of traffic accidents in Israel on a daily basis. Using Google Earth, they found that 75 percent of locations prone to traffic accidents were intersections. They also found that the police need an average of 20 minutes to reach the scene of an accident, and that there are locations where the police take an average of 40 minutes after the first report of an accident to reach the scene.
New research field
The researchers believe that similar studies could prevent traffic accidents by identifying problematic road sections in advance. In addition, analysis of the data will enable the police to deploy their forces better.
"Location-based social networks are a new research field," said the study's chief researcher. "Only now are we beginning to discover the potential in the huge amount of data collected daily. Studies of this kind, which monitor events such as traffic accidents over time, can help the police identify dangerous sections of roads in real time, or alternatively, locations where few police are needed."
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