Di-Ann Eisnor, who leads growth at Waze, spoke Tuesday at America Answers, a Washington Post Live event on  fixing commutes. I caught up with her afterwards to discuss the service.

1. How  Waze is working with local governments.

The crowdsourced app for helping drivers beat traffic announced this month that it is partnering with local governments to share data. Eisnor says Waze is now working with 15 cities, including new additions Sydney and Budapest. The ultimate plan is to scale it around the globe:

We actually bring the cities together and they’re sharing best practices about how to take this crowdsourced information and use it, understand it and put it into very actionable circumstances. How are they using it to clear debris or accidents faster. How are they using it for queue reduction and congestion reduction. How are they using it for putting immediate data to give to snowplows for severe weather conditions. So it’s both the pre-plan and being hyper-responsive.

2. Some bureaucracies are great to work with. Others, not so much.

Working with the range of governments we work with, it really stands out who can act fast, who can keep up with the pace of a start-up. Really the difference is — and I won’t name names — I’ll name the good name — in Rio we were up in two weeks, in the control center being used. Who works like that in government? Very few people. …
I have a more traditional partner with a better infrastructure and we’re going on eight months and we don’t have any real impact yet.

3. What Waze’s place could be if we turn to self-driving cars.

I don’t think that our role changes that much. We’re still going to be the superior way to route, to navigate to avoid traffic, to avoid congestion whether it is pure human or it is a mix of sensors in the car and a human. …
We’re gathering [road] closures and we’re packaging them with photos that are coming in to our users and we’re giving them to our broadcast partners. We have 73 broadcast partners as well.  Imagine you can tap into the self-driving cars’ cameras and you can capture imagery. You still need to figure out what to do with that imagery. Users in a self-driving car could take a picture but it would be so enhanced if we went from say 10 percent of people having a picture to every report having a picture. It would be a great enhancement. … As our technology gets smarter — whether it’s the phone, the car, it’s just more inputs to creating a better service. But the service might be, maybe the car is going to be our customer, our end user as the driver. You never know.

4. Why Waze thrives in some cities, and is slower to make inroads in others.

Eisnor told me the common thread amongst cities where Waze is most popular is heavy traffic, smartphone penetration and a lack of good alternatives for monitoring traffic.

Los Angeles, anywhere in Brazil, Jakarta, anywhere in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, you name it, there are some really great representative cities in almost every continent.
Germany has been one of slowest-growing markets. It’s because the alternatives or at least the perceived alternatives are so strong. Every Mercedes, an Audi, all the German cars come with navigation built in. Even if ours is better it’s not socially acceptable to plug in your mobile phone and stick it on your dash when you got this gorgeous car that you paid a lot of money for the navigation system.

5. How she’s using Waze’s new Places feature.

I added a place where my son has baseball games and then I took a picture — added the place when I arrived at my destination — and now every time I  drive there and everybody else, they see that they’re driving to the picture of that place. They can immediately see, “I’m here.” It’s for making things easier to find from the driver perspective.