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June 21, 2012
3 Min Read
New Chromebook: A Visual Tour
New Chromebook: A Visual Tour (click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Google on Thursday introduced a service for businesses called Google Maps Coordinate, a workforce management application to help companies organize mobile workers, share location data, and collect work-related data on the go.
Google Maps Coordinate relies on Google's map data and collaborative technologies. Mobile workers, through an Android app, can access location-oriented data related to their jobs and administrators can monitor employee whereabouts and modify job-related data through a Web browser. The service even works indoors, via Google's indoor maps.
Dan Chu, product manager for Google Maps Coordinate, said in a demo conducted via a Google+ Hangout that IDC's prediction of 1.3 billion mobile workers by 2015 helped motivate Google find a way to simplify workforce coordination.
Chu anticipates businesses will make use of Google Maps Coordinate as a productivity tool on a daily basis. He suggested it can be used to track the resolution of a customer call in real time, for example.
Google said it has a number of beta customers testing the service but is unable to name them now. According to a company spokesman, the beta testers include a utility company, a city government, a pizza shop, and a large-scale telecom provider.
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Google Maps Coordinate supports three roles: administrator, dispatcher, and worker. Workers can be organized in teams and can view assigned tasks through their Android device.
Dispatchers can add team members and see their locations. They also can create jobs and assignments, which will send notifications to workers near the job site. In addition, dispatchers and administrators can see past jobs and associated locations, which might be useful for optimizing local staffing levels or the placement of team members.
Chu said that an iOS version is in the works and that plans include support for iOS 6. Whether Google Coordinate for iOS will be a Web app, will fetch Google map data via HTTP, or will rely on Apple's map technology--the iOS MapKit API in iOS 6 drops Google's map technology for Apple-operated map services--was not immediately clear.
Chu said his team also is looking at geo-fencing as a possible future feature.
To assuage corporate concerns about data security, Chu said that Google Maps Coordinate encrypts application data at rest. He also said that the service has been designed to protect the privacy of mobile workers in three ways: Users must consent to activate Google Coordinate; they can disable it; and they can schedule it to stop reporting their location at particular times, such as the end of the work day.
Although Google Maps Coordinate is intended for business users, it doesn't require Google Apps to use. The service will be offered for an introductory price of $15 per user per month until September 1, 2012. Pricing thereafter has not been determined.
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About the Author(s)
Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility
Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.
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