Monday, 20 September 2010

GPS parcel tracking

I'm currently up waiting for a package to be delivered. It was supposed to be delivered last Wednesday but was cancelled, then again last Friday but was cancelled and now I'm hoping it's third time lucky.

The tracking facilities offered by courier companies these days seems quite impressive on the surface but I've yet to see one in action that really makes full use of the technology available.  Generally, I get a nice message at the beginning to say the package has been handed over to the courier company.  Then I get some updates saying it has reached various 'hubs' on it's journey.  Finally, the package arrives (hopefully between the two times quoted by the person who called me on the phone).  At the crucial stages, GPS is useless to me.

To me, GPS parcel tracking is all about sequential precise locations on a map at a precise timestamp enabling a route to be traced and a predicted future location estimated.  Why then can't the exact live location of the package be available on a map from the moment it is loaded from the supplier to the moment it comes off the lorry when delivered?  During this period, the package is always in a building or a vehicle which can be geo-located.

The same principles could be employed for service trades like plumbers, service engineers, district nurses, vets - in fact any service that requires someone to wait in for the service person to arrive.  There are bound to be security issues but perhaps some control software could be in place which only allows time-limited access to the geo-locations during the delivery process.

Right now, my package still hasn't arrived and I have no idea where it is.  Maybe it will come in the next few minutes and maybe it won't come at all.

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