Google puts employers on your trail

Stacey Vanek Smith Jun 22, 2012
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Members of the media watch a slideshow during a news conference about Google Maps on June 6, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The search giant is offering a new service, Maps Coordinate, to help bosses keep track of workers. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google puts employers on your trail

Stacey Vanek Smith Jun 22, 2012
Members of the media watch a slideshow during a news conference about Google Maps on June 6, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The search giant is offering a new service, Maps Coordinate, to help bosses keep track of workers. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Kai Ryssdal: Just when you thought you couldn’t lose any more privacy, allow me to introduce you to Maps Coordinate from Google. It uses the same technology Google Maps does — with a twist.

It lets companies with big mobile workforces — sales people, what have you — keep tabs on those workers, wherever they are, whenever they’re there.

Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek Smith has more on Google’s newest search engine.


Stacey Vanek Smith: Apparently, my fellow New Yorkers aren’t always at work when they’re supposed to be.

Craziest thing I’ve done on company time was check out a full-feature film. It was “Death to Smoochie.”

Snuck out and did my nails.

I’ve gone to Macy’s to go shopping.

We all went to a bar and got pretty tanked.

The fine art of playing hookie might be tanking, too. Google’s Maps Coordinate lets your employer use your phone to see where you are on a map every five seconds. Google’s been beta-testing the product with utility companies, telecom companies and pizza delivery companies.

Google Maps Coordinate ad: Since your operations team uses Google Maps Coordinate to visualize, when a problem arises, they can quickly assign jobs to the nearest available worker.

Maps Coordinate costs $15 per month per employee. AT&T and IBM have similar services.

Jeff Jarvis: Tracking mobile employees is a big business.

Jeff Jarvis is the author of “Public Parts,” a book about privacy. He says companies need to be careful.

Jarvis: If an employer used this service to snoop on employees, that I think will lead to a backlash.

Or maybe not. Brad McCarty is managing editor at the next web. He points out that people broadcast their locations all the time, with Facebook and Foursquare.

Brad McCarty: I think for businesses, it’s probably a great tool.

Vanek Smith: Would you voluntarily be tracked?

McCarty: Uh, wow, I’m not sure.

Google points out Coordinate has an invisible function. So if you’re, say, ducking out for a quick matinee, you can do it off the grid.

In New York, at my desk, working, just like always, I’m Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

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