On Track to Improved Communication

TeleNavTrack integrates GPS with efficient messaging.

September 15, 2003

3 Min Read
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Road Trip

I test drove TeleNavTrack using a Motorola GPS-enabled, Java-enabled phone with the TeleNavTrack software installed (the phone must be supported by Nextel). All administration is accomplished via a browser-based interface that controls server applications running at TeleNav's NOC (network operations center).

When a driver checks in using the software on the phone, it sends his location to the hosted system in the NOC. The TeleTrack software periodically interacts with the back-end systems to download messages and report on location. One caveat: If the driver does not check in, the phone does not send its location, rendering the system useless, so be sure you have a policy in place for drivers to check in and out as they perform their duties. The check-in and -out need to occur where GPS is operable--usually outside.

The system polls the phone on a configurable interval and collects location data automatically while the driver is checked in. The driver manually sends replies to dispatches via the TeleNavTrack software installed on the phone. To test the system,

I labeled a phone "NWC" and sent it on the road with contributing editor Don MacVittie.I sent messages to my driver via the dispatch console interface, including a dispatch for "NWC" to stop at Starbucks to pick up a cappuccino. Along with the address for pickup and/or delivery, you can include a set of customizable canned replies--such as "Job started," "Job finished" or "On my way"--that the driver can use to respond to dispatches. Customer service can use this information to provide task status to customers as well as data analysis regarding the length of time spent on jobs.

Inside Track

After dispatching the message, I examined the tracking capabilities of the product. While a driver is checked in, GPS data is retrieved by the system and displayed in a text-based table format or as a graphical map. The data retrieved included the location, speed and duration of stops, so I was able to watch Don's progress in real time as he drove through town. If the user enters a building, where GPS doesn't usually function, the device reports the last known location. Once the phone is brought outside again, it takes approximately one minute for the GPS to re-initialize and begin tracking location.

Data analysis on speed, route and stops is easy to access and useful for job evaluation and planning. Data can be viewed based on date and time periods. Speed analysis can be performed by specifying a maximum speed, which results in a report on all times and locations at which speed exceeded the threshold. The only feature I found missing from the analysis and real-time tracking is the ability to specify alerts. This is an important feature for organizations such as transportation companies because drivers are regulated based on the amount of time they can be driving in a single time period. Televigation indicates that alerts, as well as more robust data analysis, will be available in upgrades this fall.

Reports that specify check-in/check-out times and job status are also available. These reports include all replies from the driver. Job and time-sheet reports can be exported from Televigation's Web site to a CSV (Computer System Validation). Plans are in the works to provide bidirectional access to reporting and dispatching via XML, making the process of automation and integration a much easier task.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. Write to her at [email protected].Post a comment or question on this story.

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