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Tim's Waze Map Editing for PA Dummies

Editing Step-by-step


Starting out

So you've added the road to your work parking lot, and you looked around and don't see anything else to edit in your city. Don't fret, that's normal. If you see updating the Waze maps as fun, but don't see anywhere to contribute, you'll need to wait until you next drive somewhere that happens to need editing. Or you can just occasionally scan the map of your city for reported road problems and help fix them. However, to be knowledgeable enough to help others, you really need to get experience editing the map. This can be more fun and satisfying than your favorite game/app, and in the end, you're helping your fellow drivers.

If you keep finding that your city's roads filled in, match the satellite photos, have no reported incidents, don't create things that aren't needed. Keep in mind the Waze mission of getting *drivers* from one place to another.

It's better to really study the Waze US and PA Wiki standards and double check the streets in your area, or wait until you happen to drive to an area where the Waze map has not been brought up to standards.

When you go to a new area that has not been touched by a previous Waze editor, here are some tips.

  1. Decide whether to keep the road (or delete it)
  2. Decide the whether to promote it (or demote it)
  3. If the road is essentially straight between start and end nodes, remove the inter-geometry nodes.
  4. Adjust the end nodes to line up with the satellite photo (do this after straightening)
  5. Set the road direction (one way vs. two way)
  6. Set/unset turn restrictions

See details below...


If you're progressing beyond adding your parking lot at work to diving into map work, you need to enhance the basic Waze Map Editor (WME) with several add-on tools. Without these, you're likely to be leaving a trail of bad roads and intersections. Don't worry, the higher level folks have these tools and can quickly spot and correct the problems. The work of Level 1's is easy to spot. If you do more than a few mistakes, expect a message from the local Area Manager.

The following are in the *must have* list:

I would recommend installing Google Chrome. The tool updates come out for Chrome first, and the ones in Firefox lag behind. So just install Chrome if you don't have it, even if you only use it for WME.

WME Basic

You might have been using Waze Map Editor (WME) for a while but not taken full advantage of the built-in features. Here are a few essentials:

  • pick the right layers from the layer pull-down. Be sure to have Editable Areas checked
  • Magnifying Glass - drag this to a road and if Google Streetview is available, you'll get street view of the place of interest on the right of the screen
  • learn the hot-keys (see Keyboard shortcuts button at the bottom left)
    • Shift-F toggle full screen (gets rid of wasted space at the top, do this by habit)
    • Shift-R toggle roads on/off
    • Shift-Z toggle between showing turns per/road vs. always show any turn restriction
    • 'a' toggle turn arrows off/on - if they obscure the roads, turn them off
    • 'w' allow all turns (all turns allowed for all roads entering that junction)

For turn restrictions, there are two modes. One shows all turns allowed at the ends of a given road segment. The other shows any turn restriction in the current map view. For each of these, you can hit the 'a' key to make them partially transparent. If you want to investigate the turn restrictions, you need to be in turns per/road view. If you want to change the turns, the arrows have to be solid color.

Note that the "show all turn restrictions" mode depends on the zoom level. You may not see all turn restrictions unless you are zoomed in sufficiently. You might also need to click on a road or segment to give it focus and refresh the tool. If you're looking for turn restrictions, make sure that you can move the screen and see ones appear that you know already exist.

WME Validator

Be sure WME Validator is installed. This is the first line of defense to leaving behind mistakes. It color codes and adds markers for various mistakes and errors (some are from the base map that need fixed - not all problems were caused by editors!).

One thing to realize about WME Validator is that it only tells you information at certain zoom levels. If you are zoomed way out, it is not "validating" anything, except perhaps the major roads that are drawn at that magnification. If you zoom in, you'll start to see more problems appear. Sometimes it helps to click on a road or intersection to cause WME tools to update.


WME Toolbox adds additional editor tools. You can configure which ones to display. You won't have much time for roundabouts (circles) in WME, so I recommend unchecking those (click on the tools icon to change). Toolbox defaults to the appearing on the bottom of your screen when it turns on, but I prefer to move it up by the search button in the top area, after hitting Shift-F to go to full screen mode.

One of the most useful tools in Toolbox is the "clear road geometry" button (hot key is the number '1'). You can think of this as either a road straightener, or a tool to just delete all inter-geometry nodes. If you are editing rectangular city blocks, the first thing to do is to straighten every road that you're editing. That way, you can adjust the intersection points of roads without leaving squiggles that need fixed later.

Junction Node Fixer

WME Junction Node Fixer changes the function of the Q key (normally "disallow all turns") to be a node fixer key. This fixes problems with incorrect turn attributes on dead ends and new road junctions. Be careful and review turn restrictions after using it! A typical sequence to fixing nodes is:

  • check what any existing turn restrictions are (be sure the arrows are enabled!) and understand why they might exist (vs. being accidental or random)
  • hit 'q' to fix nodes
  • hit 'a' to allow all turns
  • disable and correct any turns that need disabled

Accumulating Editing Points

If you add and fix a few roads or make some edits that correct reported mistakes, you might be tempted to start thinking about rank. If you do, it will be a long process. Enjoy making the map world better and the points take care of themselves. Other than unlocking an occasional railroad to make an attribute correction, the ranks don't buy you much. Additionally, you probably need to focus on a smaller area (instead of doing incorrect things over large areas), and hence the editing range expands as you accumulate experience. Focus on the journey!

Editing a New Area

Approach a new area in the map editor as a combination of zoomed in work and zoomed out work. If you're trying to match roads to a county map in order to determine their Functional Classification, you need to be zoomed out pretty far. If you're starting to cleanup the roads within a city, you probably need to start at a medium zoom so that you can select many roads at once and straighten them, fix turn nodes, or determine which roads to delete. Finally, to fine place junctions or distinguish alleys from streets, you need to be zoomed in closer.

When prioritizing updates, be sure to fix "roads before nodes". That is, fix the road directions (one-way vs. two-way) and road straightening <link> before setting node turn restrictions and centering the junction, or you'll have to go back and forth redoing corrections. For example, if you enable turns, and then change the road from one-way to two-way, you'll have to go back and re-enable turns at that node.

<add priority list here>

Deleting roads

You'll find many roads on the map that really don't belong there. Many of these were added in the original Waze base maps. Unfortunately, many should be deleted instead of cleaned up, and some editors erroneously spend time trying to fix them. Here are some things to consider when deleting a road. When in doubt, be cautious and keep the roads around (and ask the opinion of more experienced Waze editors via chat, forum, etc).

Characteristics of roads to delete:

  • often have the state listed as "New York" even though they're in Pennsylvania
  • road direction is "unknown"
  • the start and end nodes do not match anything on the satellite picture, or are significantly shifted
  • no road name
  • sometimes the roads are just a squiggle leaving a main road and going into the woods or a field
  • the road only connects to one house (ie, a short or long driveway)
  • the road would not help Waze users to "get somewhere"

Characteristics of roads to fix:

  • a road that was recently added by a Level 1 Editor (or by any editor...)
  • the road ultimately connects two different roads
  • the road is a dead-end, but the road is shared by two or more dwellings
  • the road would support the Waze mission of getting drivers somewhere

For example, a road that leads to a theme park could help a lot of Waze users get somewhere, even though it doesn't fit the first two categories. Conversely, most people do not need Waze to navigate up their driveway.

Note that Waze standards discourage driveways from being mapped. However, if a beginning editor adds their home driveway and it's not too short, I generally fix them and leave them (rather than delete and discourage a budding editor). If a new editor starts adding all the driveways in the neighborhood, then we need to delete them!

If you are editing a new area of country side, you may find that you need to use the delete key often. Once to delete the bogus road, and then to delete the old major junction node that you left behind. This can result in a lot of hand movement for your left hand away from the home row, or your right hand from the mouse. I would recommend using Windows Control Panel to map one of the mouse keys to be the Delete key to make this easier. Be careful and go slow when deleting anything!!

Demoting Roads

If you find an alley or a road that goes to one dwelling (ie, a driveway), the road should be changed from default "Street" to type "Private Road". Alley's are often found in the center of big cities and the older sections of towns. In many cases, you'll find that the city streets are laid out in rectangles with narrow alleys providing internal access in the block to garages at the rear of the dwellings. Use Street View (drag the magnifying glass under the zoom bar to the place of interest) to see what the road really looks like.

The easiest way to find the alleys in a city is to turn off the Waze roads (Shift-R) so that you can see the widths of the roads on the base satellite picture. Look for the rectangular grid of major roads in the city or town and see if there are narrow roads within each major block leading to the interiors.

Characteristics of alleys:

  • should be narrower than the normal adjacent roads
  • generally do not have the fronts of houses facing them
  • often have garages on one or both sides
  • often wide enough for one car width only
  • might have a road name ending "Alley"

Ask yourself, "would you want Waze to send you someplace via this road, or the next major road over?" If the road is narrow, you'd do better to discourage the Waze router from sending people over this road (this is a complaint about Waze in some public forums and it starts with not categorizing roads correctly).

With the road visibility turned off in the editor, you can still click on the alleys and demote them (ie, retype them as "Private Road" instead of "Street") by selecting them with the cursor (the underlying road gets focus) and then changing the road type from Street to Private Road.

One of the best ways to see how alley's are setup in Waze is to install the Color Highlighter and set road type colorize to "Private Road". You'll then see purple lines for all Private Roads. Try finding some nearby cities (even if you can't edit them) and see how others have decided which roads to label as Private Roads.

How many nodes?

After studying the Waze wiki (required!), you'll see there are two types of nodes. When you're shifting a road up or down to align to the satellite image, you only need to move the geometry nodes (larger circles).

How many nodes does a road need? You'll see examples of both too many and too few on the map. If the road looks jagged and the drawn road goes off of the satellite road at medium zoom, it probably needs to have the inter-geometry nodes shifted.

If you need to re-position straight roads, delete all the inter-geometry nodes first by hitting the '1' key with the WME Toolbox installed. If the road segment is short (even if on a curve) just delete the nodes if they don't make a difference in how the road is presented.

If you're going to move a long and curvy road, and it's got way more nodes than required, start by deleting roughly ever other node. To delete a node, make sure the road has focus, then hit the 'd' key over each node to delete. Alternatively, hit '1' to remove all nodes and then drag inter-geometry nodes to create the curve properly. Both of these techniques can save time vs. dragging 40 nodes sideways when all of those nodes weren't needed.

If you want to move a junction node, be sure to "wiggle" the node first. That is, exaggerate the movement and look for adjacent geometry nodes. If you move a junction over or past one of the existing geometry nodes, which causes errors later. So always begin the move with a wiggle up/down and side-to-side. If there are nodes interfering with your move, shift the focus to the problem road and hit 'd' over the nodes to delete them. Then do drag the junction to the correct spot.

PA Federal Classification vs. Waze

Waze is in the process of implementing the Functional Classification types in Waze. This means that waze editors need to label PA roads according to the following:

When there is a difference in information, you will generally pick the higher highway category (ie, the bigger and faster type). For example, if the PA State map shows a road is 4-digit State Route, but it's not shown in the PA Functional Classification map, it would still be shown as a Primary Street (per PA Wiki Standards). On the other hand, the PA FC map will often promote roads beyond Primary Street based on the road's use.

Notes on FCU state vs. Waze

The color codes used on the PA FC maps use a different color code compared to those used in the Waze Map Editor. The following table is for reference with map FC name followed by Waze name:

Jondrush has an excellent chart showing the mapping here.

Determining Road Directions

Many times you will find that the Waze map has incorrect road directions. In some cases, these are roads with unknown directions, or roads that the Waze routing engine has only observed people traveling in one direction (so far) and labeled them as one-way.

When you've set the road directions, zoom out a bit and look at the patterns. Realize that PA cities may have only segments of a road with direction restrictions. However, if you see that there are several blocks all one-way, but one of them in the middle is shown as two-way, that's a good one to double check. Also make sure that you don't have one-way streets sending cars only into or out of an area.

If the city has two major roads through the middle of town and one is one-way to the left, double check the other to make sure it's not one-way to the right.

Look at the last edit tags and see if someone has updated the roads in that area. There's a good chance that somebody local has made the one-way restrictions up-to-date, so you might hesitate to make a lot of changes to convert one-way streets into two-way streets if they look like they were purposefully set.

A Waze editor can often determine the roads actual direction restrictions from clues.

From satellite images:

  • might have road markings showing turn arrows in both lanes, or other road restrictions
  • might show visible cars only moving in one direction
  • might show cars parked on the left side of the road parked in the "wrong" direction

From Waze Map Editor:

  • turning on the GPS arrows (upper right pulldown in WME) shows cars only moving in one direction suggests it's one-way

From Street View:

  • "One Way" and "Do Not Enter" signs visible while traversing the road
  • cars parked on the left side facing the "wrong way"
  • street signs (like parking signs) on the left side facing the "wrong way"
  • stop signs (can confirm that traffic *is* allowed in a particular direction and the road is not one-way)

External sources:

  • from PA City Maps (only reliable for confirming a one-way street, but very incomplete for showing *all* one-way streets in a city).

Note that a dead end street (cul-de-sac) will generally always be two way (unless it's a road from a factory that produces cars or a junk yard that consumes them!)

There is also an excellent road direction tutorial here.

Closing User Problems

Everyone can help with Map Problems and Update Requests. In most cases, drivers do not provide enough information to fix the problem. If that's the case, reply to the issue and ask for details. First study the user's actual track (if available) and Waze recommended path (if available). You will likely need to click these views off and on to study what went wrong. If possible, ask the driver in some detail about the nature of the problem, "were you asked to turn left on Main Street, but the turn is not allowed? Is 2nd Street one-way now?" so that you can create the proper fix.

If an issue is waiting more than seven days for a reply, it is OK to close it. If someone has been engaged with an editor on a resolution, you would probably not want to jump in and close it. If in doubt, ask an Area Manager for additional assistance. Anything more than one month without activity should likely be closed.

Getting Help

<fill in more later>

Cpttim can be reached by private message.