If you use the travel app Waze in Rio de Janeiro, you will be tracked.
According to Forbes, “Rio is the first city in the world to collect real-time data both from drivers who use the Waze navigation app and pedestrians who use the public-transportation app Moovit, giving it an unprecedented view on thousands of moving points across the sprawling city.”
Rio’s department of transportation harvests data from smartphones using the app and identifies potential traffic jams and problems. The department then sends traffic alerts to the smartphones. Forbes describes this process as “swapping data for data.”
On Waze’s website, users learn they are already making their data available to others by using the app: “After typing in their destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a ‘heads-up’ about what’s to come.”
Since data sharing is an integral part of how Waze works, Waze spokesperson Julie Mossier thinks it makes sense for the department of transportation to tap into that shared data.
“This is a numbers game,” Mossier told Forbes. “We still want all the information we can get so that our app is as robust as possible.”
But Rio isn’t the only city to use Waze. The Florida Department of Transportation just made the decision to use Waze, which means government tracking via navigation app is moving to the U.S.
“We’re going to share our information, our camera images, all of our information that comes from the sensors on the roadway,” FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson told a Florida news station. “And Waze is going to share its data with us.”