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Google unveils app for managing off-site workers

Google Maps Coordinate is designed to help dispatchers and others oversee and direct teams of workers in the field.

Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET

Google today unveiled a location-based, check-in style service designed to help businesses oversee and direct their employees in the field.

Google Maps Coordinate could, for example, be used by a dispatcher at a utility company to find out which of its repair trucks was closest to a downed power line, assign that driver to the repair task, and issue appropriate instructions, Google said in a blog post.

Mobile staffers download the Coordinate app to their smartphone and can then share their real-time location with their dispatcher or manager. They can also use the app to check in when they've started on a job, and to record whatever data they might need to collect (client contact info, for instance).

Managers and dispatchers can use the smartphone app, or a Web version of the app, to create different teams of workers to follow; locate and assign jobs; create custom data-collection fields; and keep a record of past jobs -- allowing them to, in Google's words, "assess where they should be assigning or hiring more workers and how to optimally place their teams."

The app is meant to be a low-cost, no-hassle system for large and small companies alike, one that requires no major overhauls to systems that are already in place. TechCrunch reports that the service will cost $15 per user per month initially, with the price perhaps increasing at the beginning of September.

TechCrunch also said Coordinate allows users to "go invisible" when they don't want their phones to be tracked by the service, and that the setup includes a time-based feature that can automatically log people out at the end of their shifts. Google's product manager for the new service told Tech Crunch that this is the first time Google is putting its extensive investment in mapping and geolocation services to work in an enterprise-focused app.

Here's Google's promo vid for Google Maps Coordinate: