Google’s workforce management tool Google Maps Coordinate has added indoor maps for airports and department stores to show indoor locations of mobile teams. An integration with Google Maps for Mobile on Android and Apple mobile devices gave the tool access to indoor maps of public indoor locations created by Google staff.
The indoor maps calculated locations by triangulating the strength of wi-fi signals instead of using GPS signals which are blocked by buildings.
“If you have a job in terminal two of Sydney Airport you can create a job and specify the location and details, for example to purchase something in duty free,” said Dan Chu, senior product manager for Google Maps for Business. Google Coordinate automatically assigned the job to the closest worker and sent a notification to their mobile device to acknowledge and begin the job.
“Once you’re in Sydney Airport, that blue dot showing your current location will be precise, even without GPS, and that location will be broadcast to the dispatcher. Instead of people getting lost once they go indoors you can still see their location,” Chu said.
The Google Maps for Mobile integration also let Android users receive directions to a location with one click from Google Coordinate, Chu said.
“Let’s say the company needs someone to go to the northwest corner of a building, you can specify that in the tool. With a single click in the Android mobile app you can trigger Google Maps for Mobile and receive navigation to that location,” Chu said.
Google was integrating other apps into Google Coordinate. A dispatcher could use Google Hangouts (an equivalent to Skype) to phone or video call a worker for free.
Google Maps Engine recorded the location of infrastructure and displayed it within Google Coordinate. An electrical utility could see its substations on a map and which teams were nearest to each, for example.
Google Coordinate was developed for small businesses and enterprises to manage their mobile teams of salespeople, engineers, assessors and couriers.
A full suite of APIs (application programming interfaces, which share data from the app) was bundled with Google Coordinate. The program shared information such as the location of a team member which could be fed into other programs.
Integration with other programs were left up to customers. Google Coordinate was not connected to cloud accounting programs such as Xero, Saasu and QuickBooks Online. When the program was launched last year, local competitors GeoOP and Connect2Field said they didn’t see it as a threat.
“The genesis for the product was seeing how many businesses have mobile workers,” Chu said. “Companies usually have very manual processes and don’t know who’s in the field because they’re using paper. The idea is that we have all these technologies with our smartphones, so let’s connect them to the cloud and increase their productivity.”
Google Coordinate was used by small businesses such as Queensland retailer Architectural Doors and Windows to manage a handful of installers.
Enterprises had found a range of applications including security. The director of security for grid iron team the San Francisco 49ers used Google Coordinate to direct security guards to disturbances in the crowd on game day.
“There’s a remarkable need for folks in the field and the technologies they were using were from the dark ages. They were calling each other on phone or by CBA radio and using notepads,” Chu said.
Research company IDC estimates that 1.3 billion people, or 70 percent of the workforce, will be mobile workers by 2014.
“It improves communications between real-time location of team members to see who is the right person to accomplish a task most efficiently,” Chu said.
Google Coordinate cost $20 per user per month on a one-year contract or $24 per user per month without a contract.