Tuesday December 10, 2019
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Google Launches A Car-Pooling Application ‘Waze’

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work.

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The Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco. VOA

Google will begin offering its pay-to-carpool service throughout the U.S., an effort to reduce the commute-time congestion that its popular Waze navigation app is designed to avoid.

The expansion announced Wednesday builds upon a carpooling system that Waze began testing two years ago in northern California and Israel before gradually extending it into Brazil and parts of 12 other states.

Now it will be available to anyone in the U.S.

Drivers willing to give someone a ride for a small fee to cover some of their costs for gas and other expenses need only Waze’s app on their phone. Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling.

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

About 1.3 million drivers and passengers have signed up for Waze’s carpooling service, the company says. About 30 million people in the U.S. currently rely on the Waze app for directions; it has 110 million users worldwide.

Waze’s carpooling effort has been viewed as a potential first step for Google to mount a challenge to the two top ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft.

But Waze founder and CEO Noam Bardin rejected that notion in an interview with The Associated Press, insisting that the carpooling service is purely an attempt to ease traffic congestion.

“We don’t want to be a professional driving network,” Bardin said. “We see ride sharing as something that needs to become part of the daily commute. If we can’t get people out of their cars, it won’t be solving anything.”

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Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling. Flickr

Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey also sees Waze’s service as a bigger threat to other carpooling apps such as Scoop and Carpool Buddy than to Uber and Lyft. “Carpooling is a much different animal,” he said.

It’s a form of transportation that Bardin said Waze had difficulty figuring out. Early on, Waze tried to get more drivers to sign up by emphasizing the economic benefits of having someone help cover gas costs for a trip that they were going to make anyway.

But earlier this year, Waze realized it needed a better formula for connecting strangers willing to ride together in a car. Many women, for instance, only want to ride with other women, Bardin said, while other people enjoy commuting with others who work for the same employer or live in the same neighborhood.

“Carpooling is a more social experience,” Bardin said. “A lot of time those of us working in the digital world forget that social connections are often the most important thing in the real world.”

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

Waze’s app still sets a price for each carpooling trip and transfers payments without charging a commission. That’s something Waze can afford to do because Google makes so much money from selling digital ads on Waze and its many other services.

Also Read: In India, Carpooling and Ride-Sharing Can Actually Improve Urban Mobility: Uber

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work, Bardin said. Drivers and riders can agree to adjust the price upward or downward, but the fees can never exceed the rate the Internal Revenue Service allows for business-related mileage — currently 54.5 cents per mile.

Even though Waze’s carpooling service doesn’t appear to be driven by profit motive, Ramsey isn’t convinced that will always be the case. “I do think Google is realizing that it can’t just keep making all its money from selling ads,” he said. (VOA)

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Global Warming Can Make You Fall ill More Often: Study

The study said that increased heat may cause illness through undernourishment in a number of ways: reducing appetites, provoking more alcohol consumption, reducing motivation or ability to shop and cook and exacerbate any undernutrition

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Global Warming is one of the biggest threats to the reduction of hunger and undernutrition, especially in low and middle-income countries. Pixabay

Global Warming is likely to increase illnesses caused by undernutrition, due to the effects of heat exposure, researchers have warned.

For the study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, the researhers analysed daily hospitalisation data covering almost 80 per cent of Brazil between 2000 and 2015.

They studied the link between daily mean temperatures and hospitalisation for undernourishment according to the International Classification of Diseases.

“The association between increased heat and hospitalisation for undernutrition was greatest for individuals aged over 80, and those 5 to 19 years,” said the researchers from Monash University, Australia.

The researchers found that for every 1 degree Celsius increase in daily mean temperature during the hot season, there was a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of hospitalisations for undernutrition.

“We estimated that 15.6 per cent of undernutrition hospitalisations could be attributed to heat exposure during the study period,” said study’s lead author Yuming Guo.

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Global Warming is likely to increase illnesses caused by undernutrition, due to the effects of heat exposure, researchers have warned. Pixabay

The study said that increased heat may cause illness through undernourishment in a number of ways: reducing appetites, provoking more alcohol consumption, reducing motivation or ability to shop and cook and exacerbate any undernutrition, resulting in hospitalisation.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the reduction of hunger and undernutrition, especially in low and middle-income countries. It has been estimated that climate change will reduce global food availability by 3.2 per cent and thus cause about 30,000 underweight-related deaths by 2050,” the report said.

ALSO READ: Huawei Plans to Bring Custom-Made OS For its Smartphones Soon

“It is plausible to speculate that climate changes could not only increase the rate of undernutrition in the most affected areas of the globe, but at the same time, impair individuals’ capacity to adapt to projected rises in temperature,” said the researchers. (IANS)