Douglas County works with app to help coordinate traffic conditions

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Douglas County, one of the largest counties in Colorado, is combining forces with a popular smartphone traffic app to help drivers avoid backups and allow county officials to monitor real-time traffic issues.

"This is a very unique, cutting-edge partnership," Douglas County treasurer Diane Holbert said.

The partnership is a first-of-its-kind initiative linking government data with the power of a technology company.

The Google-owned navigation app Waze has almost 200,000 users in the Denver metro area. The app allows users to report traffic issues they see.

With new government data behind the app, Waze could very well work better in Douglas County than anywhere else.

Over the past several years, the free app has grown in popularity. It's known for its crowdsourcing technology, allowing drivers to warn others about accidents, road work and police speed traps.

"This is a tool to help folks navigate Douglas County with a smile on their face," Holbert said.

Douglas County and its municipalities are regularly transferring public traffic information from government computers to the app.

The data sharing is making one of world's the most powerful navigation tools even stronger.

Much of what the county is pushing out is construction-related activity, Holbert said.

The county will  be receiving data from Waze on accidents, stalled vehicles and many other unexpected incidents. That information will help police get to emergencies faster by avoiding traffic.

The app also identifies dangerous traffic areas.

The app is not intended to report issues to law enforcement authorities, but each time users push the app's report button in Douglas County, the government will have access to that information.

"We will be pulling that data back," Holbert said.

It's a partnership that's mutually beneficial to both Douglas County and parent company Google.

It's also collaboration that has the potential to save countless traffic headaches.

Colorado Springs also has a partnership with Waze, but Douglas County leaders said their partnership is the first time an entire county, and the cities within it, have collaborated with the app.