The days of losing your GPS signal in the tunnel are over. The popular maps application Waze announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to deploy “Waze Beacons” in New York City. As of this morning, users of the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and Brooklyn Battery tunnel will be able to enjoy this revolutionary technology.
“We are excited to bring this innovative technology to our tunnels as it will provide significant benefits to motorists by delivering uninterrupted real-time traffic data that enhances the customer experience,” Veronique Hakim, MTA Managing Director, said in a press release. “Together with Cashless Tolling, this further underscores our commitment to modernizing our facilities so we can better serve customers now and for many years to come.”
Waze Beacons is an open-source and affordable solution to a common problem: how to keep GPS units functioning underground or underwater. Without Beacons, drivers are left with little knowledge of what awaits them once they reach the open road. This leads many drivers to miss exits, stop short upon hitting traffic, or haphazardly cross several lanes of traffic just to make a turn.
Now, Manhattan joins 14 other cities around the world, including Paris, France, and Oslo, Norway, in making use of Waze’s technology to improve driver routing and safety. Over 700 Beacons were installed in New York, taking little more than a minute to peel back the adhesive and stick each unit to the tunnel walls. Notably, this is the first time multiple organizations have worked together to bring Waze Beacons to a city.
As explained by Waze, Beacons are, “cost-effective, battery-operated, low-energy microcontroller hardware installed on tunnel walls,” that have, “Waze-specific configurations to transmit messages directly to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.” FCC and CE compliant, Beacons are $28.50 apiece, and roughly 42 of them are enough to cover one mile of tunnel.
The expenditure on the units was roughly $12,000. The units, which are manufactured by Bluvision, are as tenacious as New Yorkers themselves, capable of withstanding NYC’s frequent tunnel cleanings, and even adjacent car fires.
Their lifespan, depending on temperature, is between four and six years. The units are also fully insured, including the batteries. With the welcome addition of Beacons, New Yorkers should expect to hear fewer people shouting, “Hey, I’m walking here!” at oncoming traffic.