Palestinian start-up helps drivers avoid roadblock traffic jams

The SMS-based service is looking for investors.

Cellular location-based applications that help in determining traffic density and provide warnings about police speed cameras and patrol cars are nothing especially new. Besides Israeli company waze, which operates such an application, there are many applications in Israel and overseas that shorten the way to work. A Palestinian start-up called FeAzma is trying to offer a solution more tailored to its target market warnings of crowded roads because of IDF checkpoints. Although this is not a matter of location-based services, but rather of simple SMS technology, the principle is somewhat reminiscent of existing GPS applications.

A driver using the service sends and SMS containing information on the route he or she wishes to travel starting point and destination. The user then receives a message giving the state of checkpoints along the way, and suggestions for alternative routes.

FeAzma also allows drivers to send messages about checkpoints they have encountered, making the service a kind of social network about roadblocks, somewhat resembling the idea of waze, which enables drivers to update one another on what is happening on the roads.

"The idea for the product arose as a result of a conversation with a friend, who said she couldn't work out how long it would take her to get home because of the Israeli checkpoints close to Ramallah," FeAzma joint founder Hammam A-Samara explains. "The product works using an ordinary SMS message, so that any telephone can use this service, as most Palestinians don't carry smartphones."

A-Samara recently presented the product at the Start-Up Weekend event at the Peres Center for Peace, held over three days, during which Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs could present their ideas. "Our product is still under development, and it needs a lot of work before we get to a version that can be officially launched," A Samara says. "The business plan is still not clear at this stage, but we have thoughts of charging users a small amount in order to keep the service going.,"

A-Samara has a great deal of work to do for his service to work properly, with raising money for the company currently top priority. "At the moment, finding investors is our main aim, to enable us to cut the time to launching the service." Meanwhile, the company is working on building a website to promote the service, but it is still being put together and has yet to go online.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 7, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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