As my colleague Davey Winder pointed out earlier today, Google has launched yet another cool tool, Latitude. For the most part, its usefulness doesn't extend much beyond social gadflies, but I can think of at least one practical implication for the workplace.
Google Latitude is an opt-in location tracking service that uses your cell phone's GPS or cell tower triangulation capabilities to show your location anywhere on the planet. Once you download and enable Latitude, simply add people to your approved list of contacts and they'll receive a message to connect with you. No sharing occurs on either end until you both agree to allow your locations to be broadcast to each other.
Latitude only works on a select group of phones at the moment, including G1 and newer-generation BlackBerrys (a version is coming soon for iPhones and iPod touches). There is also a desktop companion so you can track your contacts right from a PC.
Although there is isn't a huge amount of practical application for this fun new tool, if you issue company-owned smartphones to your remote employees, it's definitely worth considering downloading Latitude on each device.
As a rule, most employees who telecommute are fairly honest. However, if everyone has the app on their company-issued phone and you suspect a rogue employee of slacking at the beach when she claims she's in your client's server room, you'll have a handy tool for finding out the truth.
What other ways can companies use Google Latitude? Let me know in the comments.
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