Israeli police faulty at times on traffic troubles, analysis using Waze app shows

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli researchers used the popular Waze smartphone application to assess police performance at highly trafficked intersections.

The researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that data from Waze, a GPS application invented in Israel, and other geosocial apps allow them to assess how police responded to accidents at a list of highly trafficked intersections.

“Our analysis could be used by the police to see if they are manning the busiest and most dangerous intersections,” said Michael Fire, a doctoral student and one of the researchers. “According to the data, police response time was sometimes slow. There were also numerous instances where the police were manning quieter intersections, while busier intersections went unmonitored.”

Waze allows users to offer comments on areas of heavy traffic and accidents, including whether police have responded, and adjusts the route accordingly.

The researchers’ article, titled “Data Mining Opportunities in Geosocial Networks for Improving Road Safety,” was presented recently at the IEEE’s 27th Convention of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Israel.

The authors, all members of Ben-Gurion University’s Social Networks Security Research Group, researched the Waze data and plotted traffic accident patterns. Using their data and Google Earth, they determined that 75 percent of the spots with the highest number of accidents were intersections. They then analyzed references to a police presence to determine if the police were at the spots that had the worst traffic accidents.

Along with Fire, the other researchers were scientific developer Dima Kagan, Rami Puzis and Professors Lior Rokach and Yuval Elovici, all of the university’s Telekom Innovation Laboratories and Information Systems Engineering Department.

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