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L.A.’s KABC-TV Prepares for Carmageddon With Crowd-Sourced Traffic Reports

LOS ANGELES: The main north-south roadway in Southern California is about to be closed temporarily, and KABC-TV is preparing for what locals are referring to as “Carmageddon.” The city will be closing a 10-mile stretch of I-405, the most congested stretch of freeway in the United States, on July 16-17 to take down an overpass in the mountain range between the L.A. Basin and San Fernando Valley. An average of 500,000 vehicles travel on the 405 during summer weekends, and local officials are concerned that word isn’t getting out sufficiently such that Lady Gaga’s been asked to post messages about it on Twitter.

KABC, the Disney-owned ABC O&O in the market, is taking a mobile approach. The station tapped Israeli traffic software maker Waze to provide real-time traffic and detour reports with a smartphone app. The company’s app will draw on data from its 180,000 local users to create live maps of traffic on the freeway, allowing the station to provide real-time road reports.

“While viewers use the app to get where they need to go, they’re simultaneously providing information to help their fellow drivers,” said Cheryl Fair, vice president and news director for KABC-TV.

Waze provides similar crowd-sourced traffic information for Israeli broadcaster Channel 2. Drivers there volunteer to be called by the station to report on live traffic information from their location. In the United States, WBHH-TV in Fort Myers, Fla., is supplementing its traditional traffic feed with commuters reports via Waze’s app. The KABC-TV will represent the company’s first large-scale deployment in the United States.

Waze said it’s partnership with WABC-TV coincides with its recent milestone of reaching 4.5 million driver/users. The company said its growth rate had doubled since it announced a threshold of 2 million users and $25 million in B round funding last December. The service launched in Spain and the United Kingdom last month.

“The use of crowdsourced traffic by major media is a huge validation of our community-based infrastructure,” said Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze. “Consumers embrace sharing information where it’s relevant and where they see real value in return.”

Waze is available from the Apple AppStore, the Android Market Place, the Nokia Ovi Store, RIM’s App World and Windows Market or download from