Chicago’s Popular Shortcut Now Powered by Waze Beacons, Eliminating Navigation Blackouts
Beginning this Labor Day weekend, Chicago drivers will experience seamless navigation through the city’s five miles of multi-level streets, powered by a new collaboration between SpotHero, Waze, and the City of Chicago. Through this partnership, the two mobility companies will install more than 400 Waze Beacons devices which deliver Bluetooth-enabled connectivity where GPS signals can’t reach. The initiative aims to put an end to underground signal blackouts.
SpotHero and Waze share a mission to improve mobility. Previously, drivers using Waze or other GPS services would lose reception on Chicago’s lower roads, hindering their ability to navigate to their destination accurately. This loss of connection creates driver confusion and can lead to traffic crashes and congestion. Extending connectivity underground remains a challenge in tunnels and underground roads worldwide, and until now for Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive, Lower Lower Wacker Drive, Lower Columbus Drive, Lower Michigan Avenue and other locations.
It’s a challenge that Waze engineer Gil Disatnik first encountered in 2014 after he lost GPS signal driving through a Boston tunnel and missed the turn to the airport. After months of developing a solution, Disatnik launched the Waze Beacons Program in 2016, and it is now live domestically in Boston and Pittsburgh as well as internationally in Brazil, France, Italy, Israel and Czech Republic. Worldwide, more than 3,000 Waze Beacons have been installed on 46 miles of tunnels and roadways, and have powered connectivity for millions of drivers.
SpotHero and Waze are uniting together to bring the power of Waze Beacons to Chicago, improving connectivity, mobility and public safety. Waze Beacons installation began on Monday, August 27, 2018, and is expected to be completed by Thursday, August 30, 2018.
“Our mission at SpotHero is to empower drivers to get everywhere, easier,” said Mark Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of SpotHero. “Through the launch of this innovative partnership, we’re excited to make driving and parking along Chicago’s lower roads more connected, reliable and convenient. As a Chicagoan at a locally-grown company, I’m energized by the shared commitment from Waze and the City of Chicago to improve mobility for everyone in the City.”
“The Waze team and I are pleased to bring the Waze Beacons Program to Chicago, one of the first U.S. cities to adopt the technology,” said Gil Disatnik, Head of the Waze Beacons Program. “The benefits of seamless navigation can now be enjoyed underground by Waze users. Waze Beacons technology is open and free to use by any other navigation app should they choose to, furthering Waze’s goal of empowering everyone to outsmart traffic together.”
“The City of Chicago is committed to being a leader on innovative transportation investments that improve mobility, safety and the quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago. “Chicago is home to a thriving tech industry, and it’s great to work with local startup SpotHero and with Waze who are working to help make everyday life easier for Chicagoans and visitors alike.”
The beacons, which will be installed and owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation, do not collect data. They emit a signal that can aid navigation apps like Waze, and are available for use by all developers looking to make it easier and safer to get around Chicago.