Google introduces system for employers to physically track workers

Google introduces system for employers to physically track workers

By Patrick Stafford
Friday, 22 June 2012

Google's Australian office has been responsible for some of the company's key innovations, and now it's delivered another update – a new app that allows employers to track their employees through Google Maps.


The new tool will cost $15 a month for each employee, and will allow employers to track employees wherever they are. Google is branding this as a solution for companies with teams on the road a lot, including IT workers or delivery businesses.


The issue of having workers on the road or away from the office is becoming even more important as flexible work hours allow staff to work from home. As SmartCompany has pointed out, this raises a plethora of legal issues.


But as Stew Art Media chief executive Jim Stewart points out, there are already businesses that track mobile staff with their own dedicated software. Google Maps Coordinate could end up being a threat to those businesses.


"Their service is basically having a web service for fleet owners. So it's probably going to compete in that space," he told SmartCompany this morning.


The new Google Maps Coordinate program works by allowing employers and coordinates to see the location of team members through web-based software. The individual workers use an Android app to track their location, and see where others employers are in real-time.


Each member can also communicate with head office using encrypted software. At any time, employers can see which employees are on the road, where exactly they are, and if they're moving to the next job.


For the privacy-conscious, there are some more controls to determine when employees can be tracked.


Lead designer Dan Chu said in a presentation yesterday that research firm IDC estimates that by 2015 there'll be more than 1.3 billion mobile workers, but companies are still using traditional ways of monitoring them.


Google says logistics, manufacturing and real estate companies are all within the areas it believes could benefit from the software – along with utility companies.


But as Stewart says, it's also a way of keeping users within the Google ecosystem. With the company under threat from Apple – which abandoned Google Maps last week for its own Maps solution – it needs to keep more users in the Google environment, using Google products.


"They just want to keep people in their environment. They want you to use Google apps and have that whole Google experience, so you're tied to the services more."


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

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