Google unwraps cloudy personnel/fleet tracking via Droid
Makes wind turbines work better too, seemingly. Bonus
Google wants to track your staff, and let you know where they are as well as what they're supposed to be doing, with a cloudy dispatch system called Google Maps Coordinate
All the employees need is an Android app which will show them the list of outstanding jobs, and let them opt out of the real-time tracking when they're having lunch or just don't want to be found, but the rest of the time the Google cloud will tell them where they should be going and what to do when they get there.
Google's latest offering isn't free, it'll set you back $15 per person per month until September when the Chocolate Factory will be deciding just how much companies are prepared to pay for the kind of tracking which has previously been restricted to taxi companies and truckers, with the additional ability to allocate and manage jobs.
There's a video for the hard of thinking, showing how Google Maps Coordinate can help keep wind turbines running efficiently:
The integration with Google Maps will attract many people, and the lack of up-front investment will encourage dabbling by companies who've hitherto relied on employee's integrity (and the occasional phone call) to keep them working when out of the office. The software needs Android 2.3 (or better) so could be cheaply deployed, and while the job list might not be tailored one can envision many industries in which a basic text field with "accept" and "reject" buttons would be more than adequate.
The service won't have advertising: even Google won't charge one $15 a month and then push ads, but the data captured could well end up being used for targeting, and we wouldn't put it past the Googleplex to expect all participants to be signed up to Google+. We also don't know if/when it's going to spread outside the USA, we're waiting to hear from the chocolate-factory-central. The cloudy nature should lend itself to international expansion, but Google might decide to step cautiously until the end of 2012 at least.
It's hard to cast judgement until we know how reliable, and usable, the system is, not to mention how much Google eventually decides to charge for it, but it should certainly push existing suppliers into innovation if they're not going to be steamrollered by a product which is good enough for most of their customers.
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