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Tracking Employees Through Cell Phones

Boot Camp feature for Monday, April 12, 2004

Cell phones and software…. Together, they can pinpoint where you are. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Microsoft and some competitors are looking to sell new services to businesses…that will allow them to track employees…through their cell phones. John Betz is director of planning and business development at the Map Point business unit at Microsoft…

"The wireless operators have made a significant investment in support of the E911 initiative to make handsets locatable. So that's basically an X, Y geocode that puts you in a position on the face of the earth. What we do is we combine that with the Map Point Web service, so now you have an application that says, okay, Roger's in downtown Seattle, here are his driving directions to get to where he needs to go…whether it's a customer pick up, a customer meeting, an airport for example."

The maps and directions could be displayed on a PDA phone. Sprint is an early partner with Microsoft in offering the service. But some people…some employees…may be less than comfortable about the tracking capability…

"Management can control who is locatable and who is not locatable, but it's done using the active directory. So I can say, you know what, I want all my people with company phones to be locatable between 9 and 5. I'm going to set that as a business rule as a company and everybody just knows that they're locatable between those hours."

A policy and technology that may spur considerable debate. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.