I was recently having a conversation with a friend from work who was complaining about his children’s lack of a sense of direction while driving, which he blamed on their (over)use of GPS.
I immediately came to the defense of his children, saying that I used Waze for just about any trip over 15 minutes long, even if I already knew how to get where I am going.
I love how Waze will find the optimal route to get somewhere by taking traffic into consideration. I also like learning different ways to get to the same place. It also offers a fairly good estimate of how long the trip will take. Plus it alerts me if there is a police car or some type of hazard up ahead.
Given all these perks, I asked my friend why wouldn’t you use a tool like Waze while driving?
He replied that his children end up relying on their GPS too much, and as a result don’t know how to get anywhere without it. What if our GPS satellite were disabled in an enemy action; what would you do then.
My first thought was that if our satellites were disabled by our enemies, I’m not sure getting in a car would be my first reaction. But if I did need to drive somewhere in such a situation, then knowing some alternate routes, knowledge gained from having used Waze, may come in handy.
What good is it knowing how to get somewhere without using GPS if the way you know is all blocked up, and you only know that one way to get somewhere?
Now I will admit that it is useful paying attention to the various side streets and back alleys that Waze sometimes send me on when trying to avoid traffic. Such knowledge could come in handy if my phone’s battery dies, if I’m in a poor reception area, or if I’ve forgotten my phone.
But I don’t think the way to deal with such possible scenarios is to never use your GPS. Good planning can eliminate two of those problems (dead battery or forgetting my phone), and in the case of poor reception, my guess is that such a problem will become more and more rare as technology continues to improve.
So I will continue to be a satisfied, and frequent, user of Waze. Who knows, someday I may use it find the best way to get from one office on campus to another, given student traffic patterns on walkways and stairwells…
Long live Waze!