Announcing Google Maps Coordinate: Transforming Collaboration During a Crisis

Google has recently announced a new service, Google Maps Coordinate, which helps to organize teams on the move. The new innovative service holds a lot promise for government, especially in regard to emergency management. Google Maps Coordinate allows employees in the field to work with dispatchers back at crisis centers to coordinate where to send help and allocate resources effectively. Google Maps Coordinate is a great tool to help aid decision makers during a crisis, as resources and time are limited, dispatchers can have more clarity from those in the field where the most vulnerable locations are.

The Google Enterprise Blog relays a situation all too familiar for those of us in the DC area to explain how Google Maps Coordinate works. The blog post states:

“Imagine you are a call center operator at an electric utility company. A call comes in reporting a downed powerline in one of the northern suburbs of your city, and an entire neighborhood is without power. You need to quickly dispatch one of your line repairers to the site, which is almost an hour away. To save time and get the power back up quickly, you want to know which line repairers are already in the area and send them the relevant information about the job.

That’s where Google Maps Coordinate comes in, a new tool designed to improve communication between businesses and their employees in the field. As the number of mobile employees continues to grow, so does the need for a location sharing solution that works in real-time. Research firm IDC estimates that there will be over 1.3 billion mobile workers by 2015 (37.2% of the total workforce) 1. Google Maps Coordinate combines the power of Google’s mapping technologies with modern smartphones to help organizations assign jobs and deploy staff more efficiently.”

Google also created a great video describing how Google Maps Coordinate works:

Google Maps Coordinate can be used either on a mobile device or on the web. One interesting feature is that Google Maps Coordinate allows you to share your location, even if you are indoors. Google Maps Coordinate also works in tandem with Google Maps Indoors, which is a really interesting service. Google Maps Indoors will help you understand what floor you are, where you are in a building and other pertinent information you may need if you are evacuating people during a crisis.

Employees can also collect and record data directly in the app and share with the team, another great way to collaborate instantly during an emergency. The blog post announcing Google Maps Coordinate provides more details of what dispatchers and directors in crisis centers can do with Google Maps Coordinate:

Meanwhile, a designated dispatcher back in the office can:

  • Create teams. Add team members to a Google Maps Coordinate team and see their locations in the Google Maps Coordinate web and mobile app. For example, our electric utility company might create a special team for home electricians and another for line repairers.
  • Manage jobs. Easily create jobs, precisely locate the job, assign the job to the nearest team member and notify them instantly. The next time there is a downed powerline, the operator at the utility company will have no problem identifying the closest team member and assigning them to investigate the issue.
  • View past jobs and locations. Get the hard data you need to make strong business decisions. With Google Maps Coordinate, businesses can easily visualize the locations of all their jobs and teams, including current and past jobs. Businesses can assess where they should be assigning or hiring more workers and how to optimally place their teams.”

Google Maps Coordinate is a great example of showing how emerging technology can help improve the efficiency and allocation of resources during a crisis. With the ability to seamlessly connect and deploy resources and teams, the impact of a crisis can be mitigated, lives can saved, and government can save precious resources needed to deliver services to citizens.

Google is a public and profitable company focused on search services. It’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Check out their Google for Gov group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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David Dejewski

Thanks for sharing, Pat. In five minutes, I can already see a dozen uses for this technology. Pretty cool idea!