The Connected Citizens Program Summit in Paris: A Q&A with the Wazers Behind It

The Waze Connected Citizens Program is a free, two-way data exchange that empowers municipalities to harness real-time driver insights to improve congestion and make better-informed planning decisions. Since the program’s October 2014 launch, Waze has hosted an annual, in-person partner summit to facilitate cooperation between Connected Citizens Program Partners, engage in candid, forward-thinking conversations, and share best practices. This year’s Connected Citizens Program Summit was held in Paris, France, on October 26 - 27.

What’s the second-best thing to attending the annual Waze Connected Citizens Program Summit in Paris? Treating yourself to a behind-the-scenes conversation with the Wazers behind the magic.

Meet Paige Fitzgerald, Head of New Business Development – Data Acquisition  at Waze, Lia Lazar and Adam Fried (both New Business Development Managers at Waze), and Meghan Kelleher (Waze Communications Manager). Below, they share with us the lowdown on what made the summit memorable, highlights and key learnings, as well as opportunities for making even greater change down the road.  Enjoy!

      Photo credit: Françoise Tancré

Q: Why does Waze hold an annual Connected Citizens Partner summit?

Paige: The summits are a great opportunity to bring our partners and Waze staff together to understand what kinds of challenges our partners are facing and work together to develop solutions that meet their needs.

It’s also an invaluable opportunity for partners to interact with each other directly to learn about best practices and solutions that partners have developed that successfully utilize Waze data to address a wide variety of initiatives, such as mobility and infrastructure challenges.

The break-out sessions we led following the presentations were a great example of this. To name just a few, we saw our partners working directly with Wazers like Ruslan Muhkin (Engineering) on changes they can make to their data feeds, with Alex Ohayon (Analytics) on how to analyze and share Waze data and codes, and with Chen Dan (Product) to learn about new tools the Waze Product Team is developing to better enable partners to share data with us and use our data in return.

Adam: I’m not sure there’s a larger community of public organizations anywhere in the world sharing this amount of data at scale for free with a public institution. The amount of best practices shared amongst partners in a free-flow exchange (and the opportunity to do this in a private environment) where everybody can learn from each other is an incredibly impactful part of the program that I’m not sure exists anywhere else.

Lia: The #1 thing for me was how much excitement the summit created. One of the best moments was having veteran partner Chris Lambert (of KYTC) present a case study, and then watching how the junior partners in earlier phases of the program getting inspired enough to want to come back and present their own next year or even host a summit.

Q: Paige, you’ve been to every Connected Citizens Partner Summit to date. How have you seen the annual summit change since year one (2014)? What’s become the growing force behind the summits?

Paige: The case studies that our partners present have become much more in-depth, focusing on how they’re now able to use Waze data to completely change how they do business. In the case of partner Rio de Janeiro for example, they’ve shared how Waze data has really formed the foundation for major international event transportation management. Now, two years into the program, we’ve seen partners showcase how they use Waze data to approach how they conduct major events, and how they run transportation management on a daily basis.

At this point, we’re also now solving increasingly more complex problems, and getting into nuanced, in-depth use cases for how Waze data can impact transit management, and moving into new data sets and use cases. For example, now we’re discussing exciting, game-changing Waze programs like Carpool, Beacons, and parking data – well beyond the basics of incident and closure exchange, adding a whole new layer to the Connected Citizens Program two years in.

Q: What makes our partners excited and willing to join the program and attend the summit? What makes them invest in it?

Adam: This is a program that drives real impact at a municipal level. We’ve seen evidence of that through the variety of case studies presented at the summit. It’s fascinating to watch how partners become increasingly engaged in the program as they realize how it’s driving noticeable impact in their city. That’s a huge reason for why lots of potential partners who attend the summit are so eager to join the program afterwards. They see how partners take a large aggregate of data insights and turn it into real, city-wide impact.  

Photo credit: Françoise Tancré


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