Updates to Waze App Provide Support During COVID-19 Crisis

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Waze app updates

Overview: The navigation app Waze is providing additional information on its maps, including  emergency food distribution sites, medical testing centers, quarantine-related road closures,and reminders about official government guidance.

Location: Worldwide

Population: More than 115 million users

Food policy category: Food security; food access; preventative health care

Program goals: To support those in need of food or medical care, and to slow the spread of COVID-19

How it works: The Waze navigation app provides real-time information for drivers, including traffic updates, road closures, and speed traps, using input from other drivers. Waze now has a crisis response team that is partnering with volunteer map editors (i.e. other app users), local governments, and the nonprofits No Kid Hungry and WhyHunger to update maps in 58 countries with data related to COVID-19. Governments may provide information about road closures, parking restrictions, or other quarantine guidance through the Waze website

Waze has also added Location Personality badges so that businesses can indicate if they are offering drive-through or curbside services. 

Progress to date: As of April 15, 2020, Waze had added more than 30,000 food distribution sites in the United States, and more than 450 medical testing sites worldwide. 

Why it is important: During this time of global pandemic, people worldwide are being encouraged to stay home and avoid social contact. In addition, in the United States alone, 22 million individuals have filed for unemployment status and are facing economic hardships. 

Accessing food, which is a basic necessity, usually requires leaving the house, but now that comes with risks of exposure to COVID-19. Waze is helping to mitigate those risks by providing users with local data on where they can access food (and other services) without entering a public building. Perhaps more importantly, those who cannot afford to buy their own food at this time can use the app to locate emergency food distribution sites in their community. 

In addition, COVID-19 testing sites may be difficult to find, so Waze has made it easier to access this essential information. 

Program/Policy initiated: Waze began updating its maps with COVID-19 resources in April 2020. 

Point of contact: 
Waze Crisis Response Team

Similar practices:

Evaluation: The additions to the app have not yet been evaluated. 

Learn more:


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