Sprint Corp. this week will launch a set of mobility services designed to help enterprises better control their employees in the field through location, presence and messaging technologies.
The services are part of the Sprint Business Mobility Framework, a plan Sprint developed with application developers including Microsoft Corp., IBM and Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. The framework is meant for field force management, field service, fleet management, asset management and tracking applications.
Sprint is using IBMs WebSphere Everyplace Service Delivery middleware to offer location information to enterprise software developers. Enterprise applications can talk to the Sprint network through standard Web services. Microsoft leverages the carriers location-based technologies to integrate location and mapping information into applications.
"It is open-source-standards-based so enterprises can easily plug in," said Barry Tishgart, senior director of product management at Sprint, in Overland Park, Kan. "It helps enterprises to make all employees and assets more productive and to reduce costs."
Junk removal service 1-800-Got-Junk LLC, which has a fleet of about 350 collection trucks across North America, has been testing the services for more than a month. For its trucks in the United States, the company is using Sprint-supplied handsets, location-based technologies and SMS (Short Message Service) as well as Microsofts MapPoint Location Server software, which combines the location data gleaned from Sprints network with mapping capabilities from the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service engine.
Sprint officials acknowledged that some privacy concerns can arise from tracking individual employees, but they noted that users must opt in to the tracking service.
The system allows 1-800-Got-Junk to pinpoint the closest driver to a customer pickup location and then send that drivers phone an SMS message with directions to the location.
"This is about as high-tech as you get in the world of junk," said company spokesperson Christopher Bennett in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Early results of the trial have been encouraging, said Bennett. "Were very optimistic, not only on the fleet management efficiency but also on fuel efficiency," he said. "Overall, our bottom line improves."
Pricing for Sprints services varies based on the number of services purchased and the number of transactions per year. For example, 5,000 location transactions per year would cost about $100 per month. Additional services, such as automatic notification when a device crosses a predetermined geographic boundary, are available at an extra cost.
Although Sprints new offering works on a wider range of mobile devices than other location-based services, it will work only on Sprint phones. Sprint said that so far it works on about 15 handsets, including PalmOne Inc.s Treo 650 and Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry devices.
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