Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is Android for Work a viable answer for BYOD?

Both Android and iOS primarily target consumers not businesses. But ubiquitous in the workplace, the battle for dominance may be swayed by employers and employees concerns about the use of personal smartphones and tablets at work.

Google first introduced the Android for Work initiative in the summer of 2014 and last month began formally launching the program, releasing details about how the Android program will make smartphones and tablets more secure in the workplace.  Take a look at this article for more information about last month’s release.

This is a big deal for field data collection. At GeoSpatial Experts we are seeing a mix, many of our small to mid-sized companies allow employees to bring their own devices but our government and larger companies tend to lean towards providing smartphones and tablets for their employees. Either way, everyone is moving is towards mobile devices in the workplace and how to best manage these devices is the burning question these day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to use a laser rangefinder with your smartphone or tablet for field data collection

Learn how you can use a laser rangefinder with your smartphone or tablet for field data collection.  Register for a free webinar presented by Laser Technology and GeoSpatial Experts next Wednesday April 10 at 1pm MDT..

Use TruPulse lasers with your smartphones & tablets running GeoJot+ to wirelessly capture field data along with geotagged photos, automatically upload them to the cloud, then process them back in the office creating reports, maps and database input.

The days of measuring wheels, height sticks, pencils and a clipboard for recording field data are over. Attend this webinar and learn how to combine the power of an LTI’s TruPulse® mapping laser with your smartphone or tablet using the GeoJot+ app.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Mobile Phone Call Placed 40 Years Ago

Motorola employee Marty Cooper made the first mobile phone call exactly 40 years ago today —  on April 3, 1973.  It was the beginning of a revolution.  It took a while for the revolution to pick up steam but now the technology is moving at a breakneck pace with major innovations coming out every year.  I remember seeing a few people with the big bricks in the 90s.  And now I hardly know a person without a smartphone.  Changing our lives and they way we do business ....

Monday, April 1, 2013

Department of Defense moving towards Apple Smartphones and Tablets?

At GeoSpatial Experts we have been seeing private companies and local government moving towards Apple and Android devices for several years. We expected it might be several more years before that change was implemented in the federal government, particularly the defense department but lately we have been reading that it might be sooner that we thought.

In February of this year Bloomberg released a story that the U.S. Defense Department would begin opening its communication networks in 2014 to Apple and Google smartphones and tablets. Bloomberg reported that the Pentagon moving towards flexibility on both its unclassified and classified networks. The Pentagon currently has more than 600,000 mobile devices, including 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 Apple products and 8,700 platforms running Google’s Android operating system, according to the story. Many of the Apple and Android products aren’t connected to Defense Department networks except for testing. Right now it appears that the change in policy is towards government owned devices and there is still no policy supporting bring-your-own devices owned by military personnel.

This month Electronista reported that the Department of Defense has a pending purchase order for Apple hardware after the sequester has ended. “Following completion of the first phases of the project, as well as a few other initiatives coming to fruition, the Department of Defense will be ordering just over 650,000 iOS devices from Apple following conclusion of the sequester.” They reported that the order included 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis, 200,000 iPod touches, and 210,000 iPhones. Ultimate destinations for the hardware varies, with Electronista being told that "more than half are headed to the battlefield, afloat, and to associated support commands. Most of the rest will stay [at the Pentagon]."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Connecting Android Phones without Carrier Networks

Emergency management personnel are a growing group mobile technology users. However, this group has some interesting hurdles to overcome, as the times when they need to use the technology often coincide with times of compromised technical infrastructure.  

While GeoJot+ allows users to collect data offline and is not dependent on functioning cell phone towers with sufficient bandwidth – cell phone connectivity definitely speeds the data analysis process. And certainly aids in many emergency response efforts.  

It is encouraging to see that there is a group of people out there focusing their energy on coming up with new solutions in the realm of connectivity. Check out this article from, Android phones are connecting without carrier networks. It highlights a new prototype backup network connecting Android phones through a mesh network established with the phones' Wi-Fi chips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

With the onset of smartphones and tablets, the issue of Bring Your Own Device is rising to the top of some corporate technology discussions.  The term refers to policies allowing employees to bring their own devices and use those devices for work.  The term can also apply to students using devices they own at an educational institution.  

While there have been low levels of this conversation for years with laptops and cell phones, the issue has exploded with the recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets.  Those devices are truly the drivers of this debate.  The current concerns are focused on data, privacy, liability and implementation of formal policies.  

Once those logistical issues are resolved, many companies and organizations will quickly hit another wall of issues revolving around usability.  The usefulness of smartphones and tablets is largely driven by the apps created for those devices.  While there are business apps available on the iTunes and Google Play stores, the stores themselves are clearly focused on consumer apps. There is a definite lack of flexibility around the purchasing and managing of  apps for business.  

We hit these issues head on when we released the first version of our GeoJot app in 2011.  As a developer we had little control over volume pricing, there was one price on the store and it was the same price for everyone.  In addition, for the most part, employees had to download and pay for the app individually.  This created a logistical nightmare at many organizations.  The last issue, looming large for the BYOD debate, is that the apps purchased were tied to the hardware which might belong to the employee instead of the company which purchased the app for business use.  It was a mess.

When confronted with mobile app issues, some companies are simply walking away from third party apps and the app stores.  Even though there is commercially available functionality that meets their needs, companies are looking to build their own apps, spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, maintain and support a product they should have been able to purchase.  

At GeoSpatial Experts we spent much of our 2012 development time creating a new product that would meet these special needs of our business customers.  The new GeoJot+ was built to allow the customer to purchase not only the app, but a full solution that included the app as one component.  Additionally, customers are now able to make one corporate purchase to cover all their employees.  And the app is tied to the company, not to an individual employee or an individual device.  This is important if the company has allowed employees to BYOD, if there is seasonal staff, volunteers, or staff turnover.  It also simplifies the process when devices are damaged or lost.  An administrator can manage users from a dashboard easily transferring licenses between devices, even Apple and Android devices.  

While the focus of the BYOD conversation today revolves around logistics, the next round will likely be focused on functionality and usability.  The app stores will have to decide if they will remain solely focused on the consumer or if they will expand into the commercial market.  If they chose to expand to commercial applications, they must begin to provide the flexibility required for business use.  If they don’t provide that infrastructure, the business market will pass them by.    

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Nikon GPS Cameras

2013 will be a big year for GPS in Nikon cameras. The company has announced that it will be releasing 3 new CoolPix GPS cameras, the AW110, the P520, and the S9500.

The AW110 is the replacement for the popular AW100. Priced about the same at $349.95, the ruggedized Nikon AW110 still has 16 mp resolution with 5x Zoom NIKKOR ED Glass Lens, 3.0" OLED Display, GPS, and compass, and now boasts Wi-Fi for instant data transfer. The camera can shoot pictures underwater up to a depth of 18 m (59 ft) and for 60 minutes. It is shockproof and can withstand air temperatures of -10 to +40°C (14 to 104°F ). The AW110 offers full HD 1080p videos and smooth slow motion sequences.

New to its GPS line this year is the Coolpix P520. At $449.95, the camera offers GPS and optional Wi-Fi but no compass. Users gain performance and zoom when they give up the ruggedization features with this D-SLR-inspired design with 3.2-inch Vari-angle LCD. The P520 is a comprehensive compact camera for zoom, image quality, and versatility with 18MP resolution and 42x optical zoom NIKKOR glass lens and full P, S, A, M exposure modes. Create pro-caliber photos and Full HD 1080p videos from long distances, even in low-light conditions.

Last but not least is the new Coolpix S9500. Capture distant images with a 22x wide-angle to telephoto NIKKOR glass zoom lens. This slim compact camera takes 18 MP photos and has superior low light performance. The S9500 has built in GPS and electronic compass. At $349.95 the camera also has Wi-Fi for instant data transfer.

Not new but still in the Nikon lineup is the CoolPix S800C. The company’s first venture into the Android platform. For more information about that, see our earlier post – GPS Android Cameras.