Google Maps Coordinate is a new application that has been developed by the Google Maps team in Sydney. It is a mobile and web app that will give organisations the ability to see real-time information on the location of workers who have the app installed on their Android smartphone, as well as update and track the progress of tasks that can be assigned to those workers.
The data in the app is fully encrypted, and Google will not have access to that location data to use itself. Employees in the field using the app will need to read and agree to the terms and conditions of the app before it begins tracking them. Employees can update their location as quickly as every five seconds, or at one-hour intervals.
As battery life is crucial when out in the field, Dan Chu, Google’s senior product manager for Google Maps Coordinate, told journalists yesterday that Google has managed to get the app to function so that even though it may access the GPS location every five seconds, the workers would still get a full work day’s worth of battery life.
“Battery life is something that has been a big investment of ours,” he said. “Five-second intervals will work across an entire work day.”
Employees who are assigned a task will receive an instant notification on their smartphone, and they can then check in when they are on the task that they have been assigned.
The Android app also has a function to allow the employee to schedule when they can be tracked. For example, the employee can set it up so that the company cannot track them outside of work hours. There is also a switch to go invisible to the company if the employee needs to go off the map for any reason.
“We’ve often heard feedback from our current users that sometimes they’re at work from 9am to 6pm, and when they go home they’re wanting to make sure they’re not sharing their location from homes,” he said.
Employees can update the jobs they are assigned to using text, and Chu said that Google will also look at including the ability to upload photos down the track.
Chu said that there will be a suite of APIs made available as part of Google Maps Coordinate to make it easier to integrate into existing systems.
“You actually get access to web services that allow you to create a job, update a job, as well as query a job, so that allows it to tie in with any current infrastructure or other systems they might have,” he said.
A number of customers are already interested, Chu said, and he predicts that it will be popular in the delivery, utility, mining, financial services and security industries.Google Maps Coordinate has launched at an introductory price of US$15 per month. This price is valid until September.
Chu said that Google has plans to release the mobile app on rival platforms such as iOS, but he declined to say when this might occur.