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Bosses Keep Sharp Eye on Mobile Workers

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the panopticon dept.

Privacy 232

camusflage writes "AP is running a story on the penetration of GPS devices and monitoring of fleet operations. Such technology is hitting the mainstream, with UPS distributing 100,000 GPS-enabled handhelds 'to alert them when they're at the wrong address.' One driver is quoted saying, 'It's kind of like Big Brother is watching a little bit. But it's where we're heading in this society.' Needless to say, the Teamsters weigh in on the negative side on the whole thing."

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If you're on the clock.. (4, Insightful)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223112)

..then you need to be doing only business related tasks. That is unless you have an understanding with your employer. Period. Kaput. Nothing else to see here.. yadi yadi yada.

Re:If you're on the clock.. (3, Insightful)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223241)

Notice who posted this? Michael of course. Another big business is bad, poor little employees. Oh, and lets look to the our uncorrupt and pure friends at the Teamsters union for comfort and help.

Why shouldn't a company be able to know where their truck and equipment and products are?

Like another poster said, it's not as if they're tracking their employees when they're at home.

Re:If you're on the clock.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223619)

The Teamsters Union is a very nice organization.

--Jimmy Hoffa

Re:If you're on the clock.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223320)

Yes. This is just like one of those 'OMG THEY WILL PUT ME IN JAIL JUST BECAUSE I STEAL TEH INTELLECTUALL POPERTY WHICH ISNT RAELLY POPERTY ANYWAYZ' story.
--
Kill all copyright-thieves
kIll all copyright-thieves
kiLl all copyright-thieves
kilL all copyright-thieves
kill_all copyright-thieves
kill All copyright-thieves
kill aLl copyright-thieves
kill alL copyright-thieves
kill all_copyright-thieves
kill all Copyright-thieves
kill all cOpyright-thieves
kill all coPyright-thieves
kill all copYright-thieves
kill all copyRight-thieves
kill all copyrIght-thieves
kill all copyriGht-thieves
kill all copyrigHt-thieves
kill all copyrighT-thieves
kill all copyright=thieves
kill all copyright-Thieves
kill all copyright-tHieves
kill all copyright-thIeves
kill all copyright-thiEves
kill all copyright-thieVes
kill all copyright-thievEs
kill all copyright-thieveS

Re:If you're on the clock.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223532)

a copyright thief would be someone who steals your copyright. T

That really can happen, occasionally (_copyrights themselves_ act somewhat like physical property, but the information pattern covered by copyright, well, doesn't - this leads to no end of lawyers and normal humans talking at cross-purposes), but copyright-infringement is not theft.

GPS Tday, Brain Implants Tommorow..??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223370)

Someday, when people have brain implants that can connect to the net, and help you think faster etc, then the bosses of the future will want the ability for them to monitor that you are spending 100% of your time thinking about work...after all, the GPS and its cousin iGPS (implanted GPS) has been in service for decades and everybody knows that your boss can "GPS" your location at any time and the computers at work can figure out if you are doing your "proper" work (the AI can do some analysis of your work patterns and assignments for the day/week).

The AI's also have the ability to figure out how efficient you are on mondays and if you have been "legally engoying yourself" with apporved recreational chemicals on the Weekend by analyzing when you take a leak in the wahsroom etc. Now that the whole world monitors what you do, just forget about your privacy, the concept doesn't extist in the late 21st century.. ..sort of remindes me of a essay I wrote on grade 12 english 30 years ago, it almost got me kicked out of the only computer course at the school (before the PC existed, we had a $30K Hp computer at the school use to teach basic), the essay said that we could get tracked in the future by barcodes and the comp science teacher found out about it a just flipped out as the english department got really scared of the implications of this fictional essay (the comp science teacher was trying really hard to get the whole school to accept computers), although I must admit, I made the essay much like "the war of the worlds", so be-ware when you write fictional accounts, some people may beleive them...

Re:GPS Tday, Brain Implants Tommorow..??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223600)

if the AI can figure all that out then why would they need you to do any thinking at all?

big brother is the wrong term-that applies to human beings being on the other side of the screen.

In reality we are making AI guardians for ourselves.

As long as its just at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223116)

And not a off-hours thing, then I don't see a problem. If you don't like the policies, find a job elsewhere.

Re:As long as its just at work (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223380)

Or bitch about them and hope against hope the powers-that-be change their mind instead of firing you. Of course it isn't illegal. And within reason, it shouldn't be. All the same, though, if you're not interested in a particular policy your employer institutes, you DO have the right to bitch. Sure, you'll probably be fired, but still. Complaints are still allowed.

inevitable and unstoppable (3, Interesting)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223120)

It's unfortunate that this is happening but I don't see a backlash happening any time soon. The job market is too tight and most people will just roll over and accept it until it's so pervasive that we won't remember what life was like without the leash around our necks. Kinda like marriage.

inevitable and unstoppable-Uncivil Fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223175)

"It's unfortunate that this is happening but I don't see a backlash happening any time soon. "

Why is it unfortunate? Here GPS was used to catch a civil servant committing fraud. Something you and I eventually pay for. Do you really want it to be "fortunate" that people can get away with such things?

Re:inevitable and unstoppable-Uncivil Fraud. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223327)

Not a civil servant. UPS, not USPS.

Regardless, your point stands. The truck is the property of UPS. UPS is paying the driver to take a package from point A (depot) to point B (delivery location).

If said driver spends a lot of time at point C (donut shop ? 'discreet encounter' ?) and claims upon his return that he was caught in traffic? Who pays for that?

Shareholders and consumers. And that's just crap.

Re:inevitable and unstoppable (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223455)

How is this unfortunate?

Sure, it sucks if you're a slacker, but... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223124)

GPS is a Godsend to most folks. I use my tomtom GPS with my Palm tungsten in the car ALL the time. You can keep GPS info for most of the first world on a 1gb SD flash card (less than $100 these days) and never need to worry about getting lost.

Cheers,

Of course the Teamsters don't like it (5, Funny)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223134)

Of course the Teamsters don't like it... I can see it now... "So, either of you fellows care to explain why you drove the delivery van over to Mario Calienti's office and then drove it and a cement mixer over to the waterfront?"

Re:Of course the Teamsters don't like it (4, Funny)

LewsTherinKinslayer (817418) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223271)

"So, either of you fellows care to explain why you drove the delivery van over to Mario Calienti's office and then drove it and a cement mixer over to the waterfront?"

Because 8-Ball's shop was closed.

Mod Down -1, Anti Italian Slur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223317)

I love how these old stereotypes of Teamsters as greasy guinea mobsters is "funny" on slashdot.

These types of jokes aren't funny or accurate anymore. Italian-Americans are people just like the rest of us. Please stop with the ethnic slurs.

Re:Mod Down -1, Anti Italian Slur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223356)

I love how these old stereotypes of Teamsters as greasy guinea mobsters is "funny" on slashdot.

Me too! I think they're hilarious. More more more!!!!

BTW, what's it like to have such thin skin?

Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (5, Interesting)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223137)

How is this an issue? Explain to me, please, how having oversight of the people you're supposed to have oversight on is a bad thing? Guess what? We track our employees via time clocks, quality assurance, and production quotes. We know where they are all the time while they're here, and if we don't, they're punished for being somewhere they're not supposed to be.

Yet another example of the reason that slashbot crowd simply does not have it's collective head planted anywhere near reality. If you have a problem with your employer making sure you're doing your bloody job, then quit. Be unemployed. When this starts to become an issue of people trying to monitor their employees in their homes or when they're off the clock or something, let me know.

I have a new opinion of the YRO section: anything that appears in it, especially if it's posted by Comrade Censorific Sims, is something that doesn't matter, and I shouldn't care about. This section is only good for keeping me up to date on all the things that aren't an issue and nobody needs to know about.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (2, Funny)

csritchie (631120) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223219)

"How is this an issue? Explain to me, please, how having oversight of the people you're supposed to have oversight on is a bad thing?" You must be glad you're smart, but not as smart as Alphas because Alphas work too hard... You do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma.

Excellent post (2, Funny)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223227)

I bet the submitter and most people posting in this thread are not familiar with a concept such as "time clock" or that you're not supposed to loiter around or conduct personal business on company time.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (2, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223229)

As long as my boss is in 8 to 5 and never off playing golf on the occasional Friday afternoon...

While I generally agree with the opinion the most are overreacting, this is an issue as it moves the focus from someone doing their job [production] to simple attendance. It likely won't help oversight, instead likely will just be another example of people [low level managers in this case] using technology as a crutch instead of actually doing *their* job.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223475)

You do understand that this is about more granular tracking of fleet operations, right? Not cubicle farm migration patterns.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (3, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223260)

"When the bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves"

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (3, Interesting)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223263)

The question for me is when you give executives millions in salary and stock options and they have little oversight of their actions. You do not have to look too far to see this behavior (Lord Black, the paper baron or Micheal Eisner handing away a $140 million severance package). These are people in charge of hundred of millions of dollars.

A GPS system to micromanage a $10-20/hour employee seems to be small potatoes.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

Class Act Dynamo (802223) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223296)

Yes, but it is the company's prerogative. It may be nitpicking and may shift focus from those who you speak of, but it is not a violation of anyone's rights.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (4, Interesting)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223313)

$15 an hour * 100,000 truck drivers = $1.5 million an hour

$1.5 million an hour * 40 hours / week * 52 weeks /year = $3,120,000,000

A little bit more than the money they pay their execs.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (3, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223428)

Yes, but be realistic. Every single driver isn't going to slack off and not do their job every single hour of every single day for an entire year. I agree it's still a lot of money, but it's nowhere near 3 billion dollars.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223266)

are you stupid or didnt you RTFA ?
the article clearly said that the employers are STARTING TO MONITOR PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARENT AT WORK you idiot. what part of carrying a GPS enabled cell phone WHEN YOU ARE OFF DUTY 24 x 7 didnt you understand ?

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

dschl (57168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223495)

Obviously, you have the same difficulty turning off a cell phone as you do turning off your capslock key. You should relax, as comments like that can do bad things to your blood pressure.

Oh, and a nitpick - anyone who is "off duty 24x7" is generally unemployed. The intrusiveness of monitoring comes down to the type of employer in the end anyways - an employer who abuses this data will be unpleasant to work for in many other ways. Technology only adds more possibilities for people to act like jerks, but it does not make them jerks in the first place. In Dicken's story, "A Christmas Carol", Ebeneezer Scrooge was a terrible employer - this would not have made him all that much worse.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223280)

You're exactly right. You know why this type of thing is needed? Two reasons.
1. They have a very real need to track their trucks and packages.
2. Employees like to slack off. We all do it, and the majority of us all do it more when we're on the road.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223513)

Just as long as you aren't slacking off reading Slashdot while you're on the road. You might confuse your turn signal for a flamer (I won't judge you on whether you consider it a flame on the left or on the right.)

Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest-Boundaries. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223303)

"How is this an issue? Explain to me, please, how having oversight of the people you're supposed to have oversight on is a bad thing?"

Because the brave new world is predicated on the idea, that freedom means no constraints.* Something that's completely counter to what constitutes a society. Let alone the universe.

*Constraining the other guy's OK.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (4, Insightful)

wwest4 (183559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223375)

> If you have a problem with your employer making sure you're doing your
> bloody job, then quit.

Aren't there more black-box ways of determining whether I've done my job without gathering extraneous information that invades my privacy? I see problems with the Big Brother approach as not dealing with root cause.

Example: At my workplace, we have a loser who is significantly less productive than his counterparts. He pisses his day away looking at the Internet, talking at the water cooler, forwarding unfunny internet apocrypha and jokes to everyone, and eating 15 meals a day.

He eventually gets his work done, but he does it so slowly, that he is not worth his salary.

Instead of enacting policy that cripples everyone else in order to deal with his particular loafing strategies, doesn't it make a lot more sense to fire him for not earning his compensation, barring a better excuse (health, etc)?

No. Why? The litigious nature of our culture? Personal feelings interfering with management objectivity? Who knows. Whatever it is, I'd like to find out so that I don't have to implement another custom snort filter or whitelist instead of just firing the loser.

The flip side of this is that it disallows me from accepting a job that is easy for me. If I choose to work at Joe's Tape Backup Emporium, and I am compensated for the duration of my time pushing catrtidges, and my work requirements are met, I don't see why I cannot read a book during the downtime (can't leave, but I'm idle). Just because I'm capable of exceeding my quota, while Johhny Newbie has to concentrate 100% just to match me at 50% effort, does not mean I should be compelled to share the benefit of my personal efficiency with my employer if he does not compensate me more than Johnny. If he's not paying me more for my efficiency, why does he care if I'm reading or staring at the screen? The right answer is that he shouldn't, but he does because people like getting shit for free. However, I see no justification of the position that you must work until it's a grind for you. And that's what pervasive monitoring could lead to, because it's always in the employers' interest to squeeze you for all you're worth at the cheapest possible price.

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223490)

You're insane. This article is about more granluar tracking of fleet operations.

Truckfulls of packages that have to be a certain place by a certain time.

Is all of Slashdot this stupid, or did the smarty men just take a vacation?

Re:Seriously Sims, Give It A Rest (0, Flamebait)

wobblie (191824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223638)

You're a fucking twat, that's why. Is that good enough?

My life does NOT fucking belong to you, you miserable fucking cretinous pile of fucking garbage. I don't fucking care if you pay me a pittance for spending most of my life at "your" workplace, but hey, you assholes were never noted for gratitude.

You think your stinking shitpile of crap is somehow "natural", when of course, it's just the result of a system that rewards fucking asshole retards such as yourself.

Once again, fuck off.

Here we go! (0, Offtopic)

af_robot (553885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223145)

In Soviet Russia Mobile Workers Monitors YOU!

LOL @ TEAMSTERS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223147)

If the Teamsters say it, it must be so. Where is Jimmy Hoffa when you need him?

Thus spake the article (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223153)

This past summer, for example, managers at Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware in New York worried when a new driver dispatched to a delivery just six blocks away still hadn't arrived after 3 1/2 hours. But using GPS, dispatchers soon tracked him down, "goofing off" on the other side of Manhattan, said Larry Charity, the company's information technology manager.

Remember, the way to get out of this is to lock yourself in your trunk when the boss shows up.


I am looking forward to an automatted "potty tracker" that keeps track of how often I and my coworkers visit the restroom each day. Maybe everyone can give their tracking devices to the new intern (wow look everyone is in the bathroom at the same time).

Re:Thus spake the article (1)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223191)

I am looking forward to an automatted "potty tracker" that keeps track of how often I and my coworkers visit the restroom each day.

It's called the "The Active Badge Location System", and Xerox developed it.

related note (1)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223154)

I remember reading something about Rent-a-car places putting GPS systems in their cars so they can tell if someone has been speeding (x amounts of mph over the limit times y amount of minutes, etc). If the customer did, he would be charged more. (sorry, don't have the article URL).

Much like with the system mentioned in the article, it's supposed to act as a deterrent but is it really more of a way for the guy 'on top' to exert more control (and hence the $$$ bottom line)?
I for one do *not* welcome our eye-in-the-sky overlords.

And the problem is? (2, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223166)

for counting every minute that they might or might not be on or off duty and holding that against them

And the problem with that is... what? If you're on the company time, you're not supposed to be "goofing off on the other side of Manhattan" way off your route.

As long as the terms of tracking are put into the contract, I don't see any problem with that. You know what you'll be signing for.

Re:And the problem is? (1)

Uukrul (835197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223214)

The problem is that your boss usually don't think that travel time it's work time. If you are in the office and must go to visit a client across the city your boss thinks that you aren't working.
If you need to buy a new printer for you home-pc, where you work usually, that's not working.
If you work at night, when your boss isn't watching the damn thing, you aren't working.

It's not important where you are. The important it's that when the job has to be finished it's finished.

Re:And the problem is? (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223285)

If you are in the office and must go to visit a client across the city your boss thinks that you aren't working.

What happened to the communication between the boss and an employee? If the boss gives you crap about the visit to a client, tell him to call the damned client and have him to confirm that it was a business call.

If you need to buy a new printer for you home-pc, where you work usually, that's not working.

Huh? Say again. I don't think you're supposed to be buying a new printer for your home-pc on company time.

If you work at night, when your boss isn't watching the damn thing, you aren't working

Well, if the tracking shows that you're at work the boss can hardly complain about it. See. This invention works for you.

Sounds like bad management (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223168)

From the article: "If you're not out there baby-sitting them, you don't know how long it takes to do the route. The guy could be driving around the world, he could be at his girlfriend's house" If these managers would manage better then they could save money by not having to micromanage and actually do their job. Maybe they should hire better employees?

Re:Sounds like bad management (1, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223193)

These are union shops we're talking about here. They're unfirable.

Re:Sounds like bad management (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223225)

But will it stop a union shops? Next thing you you'll have a pager attached to your belt while you are at your cushie office job too.

Better employees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223385)

Maybe better employees aren't willing to piss away $50 per paycheck to support fatcat union bosses and/or the mafia?

The mafia just hires good economists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223410)

They are very efficient about generating the most revenue with the least effort...kinda like a perl programmer. :-)

Re:Sounds like bad management (1)

ranolen (581431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223451)

How are you supposed to know if you need better employees if you cannot watch to see what they are doing???

Re:Sounds like bad management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223582)

The managers are managing better by using GPS technology rather than spending their time keeping track of their employees personally.

Don't you think that a critical metric in the delivery business is the amount of time that it takes to cover a route? Seems to me that the GPS tracking is a great way to do that without having your boss sitting in the truck with you.

Besides, Grace Hopper was right on when she said that you manage machines and you lead people. The good managers will become leades by sharing the GPS info with the employees and working with them to improve their efficiency in covering their routes.

-ac-

Hasn'y This Been Common With Truckers? (4, Interesting)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223192)

Can't recall the name, but remember reading several years ago about a U.S. trucking firm that did real-time tracking of all its trucks, monitored their fuel consumption, speed, how long it took of load and offload, if they deviated from the designated route or schedule, etc. Apparently resulted in serious efficiencies and serious revenue, with little grousing from drivers.

This doesn't seem to me to be a grievous problem. Employees don't have the right to use the boss's time and property as they choose.

Re:Hasn'y This Been Common With Truckers? (2, Interesting)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223261)

So how long does it take for the Union workers to figure out if they all work really slow they can still stick it to the company GPS or not.
If they can all bring down the stats collectively then what is a company going to do.
Don't get me wrong I think trying to get more work out of your workers is a great idea but there are better way to encourage them to do it other than with a chair and whip.

Re:Hasn't This Been Common With Truckers? (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223639)

A slowdown would not work. The time it tool to complete a job wasn't determined by the drivers.

In reference to that trucking company, the company mandated that drivers adhere to the posted speed limit (their actual speed was tracked), follow predetermined routes, etc. Drivers couldn't drive more than a specified number of hours each day (8, I believe).

In other words, the company said "Take this truck from A to B, starting at such-and-such a time and arriving X hours later." They knew the route, the speed, and, hence, duration.

Drivers didn't mind adhering to speed limits, loved the fact they had regular non-arduous hours, and the company could use its equipment much more efficiently because it always knew the location of each driver and truck. E.g., a truck could be loaded with a new shipment at the same time and place it offloaded. Drivers weren't being paid to drive empty trucks around.

Re:Hasn'y This Been Common With Truckers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223360)

It's actually common for trucking companies to use tracking technologies. Qualcomm is one of the big vendors for tracking technology (press release [qualcomm.com] ).

The point to tracking is not just productivity, as you indicate, but it also helps track down stolen trailers, often before the crooks even get a chance to unload them. This helps hold insurance rates down so that the trucking companies can offer better rates.

Re:Hasn'y This Been Common With Truckers? (2, Interesting)

writermike (57327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223553)

Can't recall the name, but remember reading several years ago about a U.S. trucking firm that did real-time tracking of all its trucks, monitored their fuel consumption, speed, how long it took of load and offload, if they deviated from the designated route or schedule, etc. Apparently resulted in serious efficiencies and serious revenue, with little grousing from drivers.

You're right.

It was covered in Wired some years ago. IIRC, the article was primarily about Schneider National and the company's efforts to track those items you mentioned.

I don't recall the article being particularly upbeat, though. I remember that the writer rode with a particular driver from Schneider and this particular driver wasn't that pleased.

Mostly, I remember this because one passage drew a scene in which the Schneider trucker, in the middle of passing another truck, was suddenly out run by the other truck.

The trucker remarked that the other truckers wouldn't dare let a Schneider pass them up, referring to the governor that restricts the truck's speed.

I think of this passage every time _I_ pass a Schneider truck on the road.

m

I just thought of something (2, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223195)

UPS Inc., for example, will distribute new hand-held computers to its 100,000 U.S. delivery truck drivers early next year..

I wonder how hard it would be for a third party to get this information? Knowing exactly where a big van full of boxes of stuff is right now would make it quite a bit easier to pillage said truck wouldn't it? Or maybe a competitor could conveniently get people to interfere with traffic and slow them down along their routes, things like that.

Re:I just thought of something (2, Funny)

Albinofrenchy (844079) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223247)

Completely unrelated, any word on when they will give these things to armored trucks...

Re:I just thought of something (1)

RabidStoat (689404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223429)

I assumed they've had them for years ? IIRC some of the UK companies have been using them for a few years.

Yeah, the big brown truck isn't a clue... (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223272)

Boy, wouldn't it be hard to give UPS drivers crap to deal with by getting in front of the big brown truck and driving slowly?

How does GPS help this? Someone also hacks the traffic light system so they can slow it down remotely?

Re:I just thought of something (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223341)

I wonder how hard it would be for a third party to get this information?

Not very, but then what?

Knowing exactly where a big van full of boxes of stuff is right now would make it quite a bit easier to pillage said truck wouldn't it?

Nah, they all run regular routes anyway. Don't need a secret link to the GPS tracker system to know the UPS truck is coming down a certain road at the same time every day.

Or maybe a competitor could conveniently get people to interfere with traffic and slow them down along their routes, things like that.

They couldn't affect them much. So long as the truck is still running, the driver delivers until the packages are all gone. Slow traffic just makes the day a little longer.

Re:I just thought of something (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223506)

I dunno about UPS, but FedEX offers a "before 10am" service, which causes the driver to meander all over town driving like a bat out of hell to get all the packages delivered before 10am. But otherwise yeah they have a standard route.

Re:I just thought of something (1)

weenis (656512) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223343)

ooooooooooo
i like the way you think!

Why is this a problem? (1)

meyerj88 (844173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223198)

If a person is on the clock for an employer and is supposed to be doing a certain task then this is a logical way to make sure the employee is doing his or her job. This is no invasion of privacy. It is no different than a company monitoring the traffic on their own computer networks.

mod u4 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223202)

worse and worse. As OF AMERICA) today, Laaged behind, 200 running NT

whats wrong with it? (2, Insightful)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223215)

Considering i had a recent delivery taht was supposed to be deleivred before christmas. It was, but to the wrong address. I dont really mind of delivery companies start using GPS to help verify correct addresses. Well thats until the GPS system says you are at the wrong place when you are not.

But from the other side, Is it really and diffrent than being in an office where you are being watched by your boss anyway?

Re:whats wrong with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223349)

At least in the office you know when your boss skips out for a round of golf.

Alternatives (1)

blogeasy (674237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223224)

The GPS device on the vehicles receive the data from the satellitess, compute their coordinates, and transmit data to employer computer systems. What if those "computed GPS values" were to be altered before transmission to the employer computer systems? Or maybe a jamming device to interrupt the transmission signals for a brief period of time?

the alternative is you would (1)

cyrax777 (633996) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223365)

be looking for a new job real quick and possibly end up in court for vandalizing company assets.

Alternatives-A Pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223479)

"What if those "computed GPS values" were to be altered before transmission to the employer computer systems? Or maybe a jamming device to interrupt the transmission signals for a brief period of time?"

Maybe the better question is? Is the time and effort that goes into getting out of work greater than the time and effort resulting from doing the work in the first place?

At my work.. (3, Informative)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223235)

We've been tracking our field staff using Airlink CDMA PinPoint [airlink.com] modems. Not only does it provide our field staff with cellular-based internet access for our web-based field applications, but it also provides us with GPS coordinates of the device every 5 seconds. It also came in handy when one of our trucks was stolen a while back, it was easy to track it and find it. We just cant wait 'til they upgrade the modems from 1xRTT to 1xEVDO. 200kbit/s wireless access!

Helped roll out a system in 2000 (2, Interesting)

deep_magic (137913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223240)

This was for a trash / dumpster company that wanted to monitor their employees driving habits.

The funny thing was overtime fell from 10 hrs / week (per employee) to 1 or 2 hrs / week once people knew they were being watched.

The other funny thing was the guy we caught going to his GF's house for a noon-er. Imagine that, pulling up for some lovin in a 2-ton garbage truck.

Re:Helped roll out a system in 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223611)

Imagine that, pulling up for some lovin in a 2-ton garbage truck.

Did they talk dirty during sex?

Thank you, I'll be here all year...

Fuck yankdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223253)

fuck you fat cunts

Plantation foremen spied on slaves via telescope (-1, Troll)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223255)

while the slaves were working in the fields, with the foreman or the Master used to spy on them via telescope. The slacker slaves would get no supper at end of day.

We have come so far here in America.

Re:Plantation foremen spied on slaves via telescop (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223347)

Those slaves could have just sought work elsewhere if they didn't like the conditions.

Oh, wait...

I bet... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223448)

...those African slaves wished somebody would outsource their jobs to a guy in Bangalore.

He would have worked for less pay than they did.

Re:Plantation foremen spied on slaves via telescop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223481)

Huh? Where in the article was it said that these GPS systems were immediately being used as a means of spying? Who said anything about depriving the employees (not slaves) of their right to eat?

You're an idiot trying to push an agenda in a story where it isn't even remotely applicable.

It's a pity the /. bosses don't watch Michael. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223258)

Maybe then we wouldn't have to put up with his idiotic and unethical shit here. (Roland? Engadget? Illiteracy?)

What am I saying? If the Slashdot bosses had any scruples or ethics of their own they'd never have hired him in the first place.

Real purpose of GPS (3, Informative)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223269)

I work for a company that is fitting GPS devices to concrete trucks. The purpose of these devices is not to spy on employees (though it does enable that), but to schedule deliveries better.

If the truck is held up in traffic we will know about it, and allocate the next load to a truck that hasn't been delayed.

If you're on my dime (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223295)

Unless you regularly do personal business on your boss' transportation dime, you have no reason to object to this when used on company time and/or company vehicles. This is no invasion of your personal privacy, and there is no attack on your personal rights. Do your personal shit on your own time and money.

And seeing the volumes of stories in the news about workers slacking off on the job, its no surprise that the Teamsters would oppose the idea.

From the business perspective (2, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223301)

Before everybody jumps about the privacy concerns, let me explain something.

This is in regards to business. These businesses have a SUBSTANTIAL investment in their fleet, and in the service they provide. If you owned one of these companies, wouldn't you be a bit ticked off if your employees were racking up non-business related miles on your vehicles, putting them at more risk for accidents, and reducing the overall efficiency of your business?

Thats what I thought. If you're on company time using company resources, don't expect any privacy. I mean, I personally feel there should be a limit...I mean, I don't want to get written up for taking too much time in the bathroom or socializing a bit with employees, but in a case where you're on the road in company property, that is a very different situation.

Not just using GPS ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223308)

Here in Australia I was having a conversation with my local Telstra account representative. As we were discussing some cellular products, one of the services he offered me was asset tracking.

I was stunned when he explained that they could capably track mobile phone handsets and were offering the service to corporate accounts as a value add. Now I thought that this kind of functionality was only made available to emergency services, but apparently others can gain access to the service.

Note that while this is only for tracking a specific companies assets (ie you can't track a handset that is owned by someone else) people with mobile phones that are corporate assets still tend to carry them everywhere (we have some dedicated people who believe in going the extra mile).

This does not require any special handset. It works with the handsets people already carry and use. It would not be difficult for other corporate organisations to enable this feature and monitor the activity of their staff.

Re:Not just using GPS ... (2, Informative)

syslog (535048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223497)

Yup. We (Agilis [agilissystems.com] )actually sell software that uses this value added functionality that some large telcos provide. Allows companies to not only track their workers, but geofence them (can't go here, can only go there etc). Also beams daily jobs down to them so they can go about theie business using just their cell phones.

naeem

Re:Not just using GPS ... (1)

kLaNk (82409) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223507)

Yeah, but if it is what I think it is it doesn't use GPS but rather just what cell that specific phone is currently using. Not nearly as accurate as a GPS solution (yes, they were on the east side, but if they in the porno shop or meeting with a client down the street we can't tell).

This is no different to what other bosses do (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223328)

For example, if your job is to use a computer all day, your boss has a right to know what you are using the computer for (i.e. are you using it to work or are you using it to look at pornography or slashdot or to play solitare).

Its the same thing here, these employers want to know where you are when you are on company time.
If you are not where your job requires you to be, you are not doing your job and therefore you can be fired. Simple as that.

This is not "big brother". This is an employer wanting to make sure that when you are at work, you are doing your job.

This is no different to what other bosses do-Goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223504)

"This is not "big brother". This is an employer wanting to make sure that when you are at work, you are doing your job."

Hmmm. So how do all the outsourcers know that they're "getting their moneys worth"?

It had to be said . . . . (1)

SupremeTaco (844794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223337)

I, for one, welcome our GPS tracking overlords!

Anyhoo, having been in charge of others at some point, you start to see these things a little differently. People WILL goof off if given the opportunity, and I've invested too much time and money in my company, to have someone waste it by being somewhere they shouldn't.
It's simply protecting your investment, nothing more.

Tracking is not a bad thing (1)

slakdrgn (531347) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223353)

While knee-jerk reaction is to ban these type of devices from a good amount of people, they can be of great use.

You have to figure, your at work to work. Weather its working on code or delivering packages. Now, a break every now and then (web surfing, or stopping by a 7-11) is most likley not a bad thing (depending on how anal your boss is), however, you still are there to work. Surfing porn all day or going to your girlfriends house to get laid when you are suppose to be driving is not exactly a good thing.

I doubt, however, that most of these companies are using them to spy on their drivers, the benifits (better schedualing, accident handling, tracking if stolen) are outweigh the drawbacks for people yelling about their privacy. Its the way things are heading, and if done right, can make things a bit better.

Now, if your boss installs GPS in your personal car, or tracks your work/personal car during allowed personal hours (some companies give cars for work/personal use, such as Harris), then thats a whole different story. I know people will whine from me saying this, but if your that disturbed that your FEDEX truck you drive is being tracked via GPS, then you need to find another job.

Now I'll Never Get My Packages (2, Informative)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223369)

This is definitely an anomolous situation, but I bet it'll only add to my problems in the future.

My addresss is almost impossible to find. Physically, it's nestled back in some woods and looks somewhat like the entrance to the (Adam West/Burt Ward) Batcave. The problem is that it's also next to an expensive club that wanted a more exclusive address and was able to get the short extension of road we sit on changed to the exact name of a more expensive road nearby. This was an insane political maneuver, but money talks and they wanted an address that sounded exclusive rather than redneck.

All of the locals and long time residents can find my address if I tell them the "wrong" address. Map readers or locals who are told the "correct" address won't find it because they go to an address on the other road that's slightly transposed numerically from my house number.

The utility men use long time residents to read my meters but if I go into an office to pay my bill and ask them to look up my address I have to be prepared to wait for 30 minutes of tellers asking managers for help in finding the information.

While I can see why a manager would want to have full control and knowledge over a delivery person, I bet this will have a detrimental effect on getting my packages delivered. I already tell people to avoid sending me things via FedEx since they repeatedly can not find any address I give them. I'll send a few packages by UPS after this policy goes into effect and see if I need to add UPS to my "DO NOT SHIP" list.

Re:Now I'll Never Get My Packages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223531)

All of the locals and long time residents can find my address if I tell them the "wrong" address. Map readers or locals who are told the "correct" address won't find it because they go to an address on the other road that's slightly transposed numerically from my house number.

So it sounds like what you're saying is that when you give your address to people, they find one that's close and assume that it's yours? Do you know a lot of stupid people? You do know that you can call FedEx when you're expecting a package and give them directions, right? And if you already know that people to whom you give your address will have a problem finding the place, common sense suggests that giving directions would be a good idea. A little proactive effort on your part will prevent you from appearing to be a lazy bastard. Deal with the problem instead of whining.

-ac-

Good for employers (2, Interesting)

dschl (57168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223383)

How does it differ from an employer viewing the logs to see which websites I visit during the day, and how long I spend doing it? Or your grocery store counting the number of items scanned per hour by a checkout clerk? Or a weekly review of sales figures for car salesmen? I believe that it doesn't, and it is routine to expect employer oversight in a workplace - this is merely a new form, that's all. The employer is paying you to do a task, using their equipment - it is reasonable for them to ensure that you are doing it properly and safely. Their shareholders and insurers expect no less in order to maximize returns and minimize risk. Got a retirement savings plan, and expect high annual returns? That makes you a typical faceless shareholder.

There are other places where it would be handy - transit systems could use it to nail bus drivers who decide to run 5 minutes early, or catch up from time lost on their cigarette break by driving recklessly. I've experienced a city bus driver trying to make up lost time by driving a 10 or 20 ton bus more than 20km/h over the speed limit (faster than I routinely drive my car) - when I got off at the next stop I was sure to let him know that I didn't feel safe, and was waiting for the next bus solely because of his reckless driving.

If the location and time were logged , the transit system would have had solid data to prove how fast he was driving, and could have taken appropriate disciplinary action. Just knowing that the speed and timing data are recorded could add safety, and ensure that buses don't run too early or late. The only thing worse than waiting 15 minutes for a late bus is having to wait 15 minutes for the next bus because a driver chose to ignore his timing points.

Cool advantages of this tech (4, Interesting)

syslog (535048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223469)

<shameless plug>

We (www.agilissystems.com) make software that can GPS track cell phones and beam jobs down to them. There are some pretty cool advantages to this tech beyond just tracking people. The following illustrates this:

One of our customers is a large midwest grocery chain that has a fleet of trucks that deliver all kinds of groceries to their stores. All the drivers carry our GPS tracked cell phones - the cell phones lists the jobs (deliveries) that the driver has to do that day. As soon as a driver is done delivering at one store, the system automatically calls the next store in line (using VOIP via Asterisk, no less :) with the estimated arrival time. The store preps its loading dock to receive the truck. This allows them to turn the truck around quicker than they could otherwise. This leads directly to significant savings (more deliveries per truck, fewer drivers needs etc etc). They don't care one zot of where their drivers are, just that their stores are ready to unload their trucks when they arrive.

</shameless plug>

Oh, and a quick note. Don't be fooled into thinking thats its only GPS enabled devices that can be tracked. We can (and do) track *regular* cell phones using cell tower triangulation as well

-naeem

Nothing new (2, Insightful)

danuary (748394) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223489)

We equipped a fleet of vans with this kind of thing in the mid 90's. Seemed like a great idea -- GPS antenna and the van would radio its position to a central computer. We could tell which van was closest to a given job and assign it; the vans had laptops wired in as well.

Everything went great until the first guy got fired because he was caught fishing (seriously) while on the clock.

Shortly thereafter the techs realized the system could be defeated by wrapping the antenna atop their vans with tinfoil. Management surrendered. Gave up on the idea. I think they probably wasted a couple million on it by that point.

When can I get one? (1)

mr. methane (593577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223539)

I sometimes have to find equipment installations in unfamiliar areas, and during off-hours. It isn't exactly a pleasant feeling driving down a poorly-lit street looking for a poorly-marked address, working off a map that may or may not be correct. I would LOVE to be able to call up someone at the office and say "am I at the right place?"

The teamsters *have* to fight it; if they ever portray any change as being beneficial for their membership, they give up the bargaining position and their cut of cost savings or profits that are available. That's simply what they do for a living. It doesn't have anything to do with whether the change is good or bad.

Bah (2, Interesting)

Gorbash You (844924) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223586)

I work for Roadway at a terminal in Bloomington California. I do not drive trucks, but I load them and I am a Teamster. It's hard for me to believe that the GPS systems are being used to monitor employees for abuse of time or whatever. On the dock that I work on we probably damage close to a million dollars worth of freight per day, with no repercussions. We also have cameras, but they can only be used for damages and theft, they cannot be used for abuse of company time, so I'd think the GPS rules would apply in the same way.

Police surveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11223598)

Seems I read about this 5? years ago, the police cars got GPS and could be tracked by their dispatchers. Police were annoyed to be tracked to donut shops, and sometimes at night they would converge and have friendly chat fests behind certain shopping malls, instead of looking for terrorists like they were paid to.

Case of watching the watchers.

As someone associated with UPS... (3, Interesting)

ObiWonKanblomi (320618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223603)

This is a by-product of UPS's Industrial Engineering unit [ups-psi.com] with the aim of not keeping an eye on their employees as much as making sure packages are sent as quickly as possible.

Without this unit you wouldn't have packages sent as quickly to you thanks to their research in creating systems to determine the shortest land route to deliver as many packages as possible [computerworld.com] or track packages [ups.com] accurately.

This is with the aim of helping deliveries of your amazon product or thinkgeek gear get to you as quickly as possible. What's the problem with that?

Who will track the trackers? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 9 years ago | (#11223631)

Huh? Who? How are the bosses going to make sure that the people tracking the other people are actually tracking them? Work is still slavery. You do what we say or you die. S'ok if bosses missappropriate money and cheat the government and take your job and give it to someone else, nothing personal, mind you, just following business practices, but you better not take an extra few minutes at lunch.
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