Earlier today I was given a demonstration of Waze – a traffic app that crowd-sources information. Sort of like a social network for traffic, which works better if more people use it. And more people should, because it’s free.

It’s a GPS navigation app for smartphones available on the following platforms: iOS, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry and has been brought to South Africa by MiX Telematics.

I was chatting to Evangelos Gikas from MiX Telematics earlier as I was being driven from my offices to 24 Central for a cup of coffee and he said that there are already more than 30,000 users in South Africa, with majority based in Johannesburg.

If you experience a lot of traffic in your daily commute, Waze will help you by redirecting you to the fastest route. You can see where congestion is, highlighted on the map, with heavy congestion appearing darker.

The app gets its live traffic updates by the user actively or passively sending information. If for example I’m driving to work and I have the app fired up (sign-up required) and I’m doing 20km/h in a 60km/h zone, the app automatically uses this information to let others know that there’s traffic (passive). I could also actively send out an alert, and even upload a picture of an accident, letting others know they should avoid a certain road. By doing this, other Waze users can see it, and can ping me for more information if they want. (If you want to stalk people like this, you are a sorry excuse for a human being :P)

Another interesting feature is the gamification aspect of the app. Users gain points for reporting traffic information, validating roads and collecting drive-through “candies”. The point of all this? If a user wants to become “area manager”, points count in their favour, and their status is elevated, which also allows them to update requests, delete irrelevant information, etc.

Currently there are more than 12 million users worldwide, from 45 countries. So if you’re someone who sits in traffic everyday, you should try the app, and because it’s free, you have nothing to lose. Win win. Right?

Waze is available for download on the Apple AppStore, the Android Market Place, the Nokia Ovi Store and BlackBerry’s App World.