Location-based apps and services like Foursquare have made significant inroads among consumers in the last few years, but most of the recent developments around location-based apps have bypassed the business market. While there are some systems out there that let businesses track their mobile workforce, they tend to be proprietary and expensive. Now, Google is trying to enter this market with Google Maps Coordinate, a service that mashes up Google’s mapping and geolocation services and APIs with a dispatch system for mobile workforces that’s available both on the Web and on Android phones and tablets. This, says Google, will allow organizations to assign jobs and deploy their staff more efficiently.
At its core, Coordinate allows businesses to dispatch and track their mobile employees, be they truck or taxi drivers, plumbers or pizza delivery guys. Google itself has been testing the service internally with its on-campus transportation services.
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At a first glance I can see several ways that this can be used in Emergency response work. Tracking the location of people in an emergency response theatre, assigning tasks and the ability to update those tasks on the fly are all valuable tools. The low costs as well as fact that it works on common garden Android smartphones is a huge benefit. Nothing like high costs and proprietary products to make it unusable. Google is launching this as a paid ($15 p/m per user) in September.