Even in the days of the Blues Brothers, Lower Wacker Drive was one of Chicago’s best kept secrets. Now, in the days of GPS, people still stay away because their devices don’t work there.
But all that is changing this week, according to SpotHero's senior vice president Elan Mosbacher.
"This Monday, SpotHero, CDOT and Waze started installing over 400 Waze beacons on Lower Wacker Drive and other lower roads where, historically, GPS services lose reception, impeding driver’s ability to navigate to their destination," Mosbacher said.
Chicago has 5 miles of multi-level roads like Lower Wacker, shielded from the satellite signals that provide GPS service.
That’s why Waze is using the tiny beacons designed to simulate the service for Waze users.
"The beacons actually work in a very simple manner," Waze engeineer Gil Disatnik said. "They are installed every hundred feet or so and they transmit every 10 seconds a unique identifier for every beacon."
Waze is installing the devices in cooperation with the Chicago-based SpotHero parking app and the city.
"We had the idea to make life easier for drivers," SpotHero's founder, Mark Lawrence, said. "He had the idea to make navigation easier for all."
For drivers, the program is a godsend.
And for Chicago, the program is another way to attract and retain high-tech jobs, deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin said.
"Like architecture, for example, we need to be a leader in transportation," he added.