Xora's location-based mobile workforce management platform has been used by a lot of companies, from Marriot Hotel's laundry crew to the maintenance personnel at a century-old historic cemetery in California. Now the technology is being used to help speed the cleanup response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Coastal cities are still grappling with the massive task of cleaning up the worst environmental disaster in the nation's history, though the gushing Macondo well has been capped. To that end, emergency management personnel in Santa Rosa County, Fla., are using Xora's technology and Sprint's first 4G phone, the HTC Evo, to help speed their response to the spill.
Xora's mobile workforce management app was specially tailored to meet the needs of the cleanup efforts. The application captures the oil's GPS coordinates and gives the county's emergency operations center details about the spill, helping the county clean up the oil before it advances into local waterways and sensitive estuaries.
"People use GPS as a piece of the solution but it's so much more than that," says Xora Marketing Director Brian Edds. "Understanding where someone is can help you make better decisions and provides context for other business activities that are going on."
Since its founding in 1999, Xora has focused exclusively on mobile workforce management solutions for four core functions: payroll time tracking, dispatch, data collection and GPS tracking. In its latest incarnation, the technology is used to take a picture of the oil, which is then submitted along with GPS coordinates and other vital information to the Santa Rosa County Emergency Operation Center, who then dispatches appropriate equipment and personnel.
Santa Rosa County couldn't be reached for an interview by press time, but county emergency management director Sheryl Bracewell said in an earlier statement that Xora's technology has been an "excellent tool for this incident. I can see it being useful in other emergency or disaster situations as well." The app costs $20 per month for each person who uses it.
The use of Xora's technology has changed over the years as the advent of high-powered smartphones and the deployment of faster wireless networks allowed the company to add additional functions to its core GPS platform. The technology, first used mainly to make sure employees in the field didn't stray from the job, is now used for applications like location-aware timesheets, job documentation and remote credit card transactions.
Roto-Rooter, one of Xora's first customers, first used Xora's platform to streamline the dispatch service for 1,800+ plumbers it employs. Since then, Roto-Rooter's expanded use of the technology has helped its business become more efficient, saving it more than $640,000 each year simply by eliminating the paper forms it once used for credit card transactions.
"Location is not just for punitive purposes," Edds says. "We live in a world where documenting where things are happening is increasingly becoming very relevant."