Our February App of the Month is a cloud application developed by Antris—a London, ON-based startup company that created a responsive communication solution so organizations can track at-risk or work alone personnel. The app combines GIS, Web and communication technologies to provide real-time updates on the status and location of workers to ensure their safety.
Here’s how the app works. Let’s say you’re a social worker, or a natural gas pipeline inspector, and you’re getting set to leave the office for the day to work on your own. Before leaving, you log in to the Antris Web site or on the mobile app and add your route plans for the day, including where and when you’re going to arrive and leave specific locations. As you go about your day, you’re prompted to check in on your smartphone, tablet or laptops, so that the app, and most importantly your manager back in the office, can keep tabs on how you’re doing.
If you make any changes to your plan while you’re on the road, or if an emergency arises, the app automatically relays information to your manager via a desktop dashboard. For example, if you were on your way to inspect a pipeline in a remote rural area and you get into a car accident and you’re unable to physically check-in, the Antris app would automatically send alerts to your manager when you fail to meet your next checkpoint.
In essence, the app centralizes the processes and communications that many organizations routinely perform when monitoring work-alone or at-risk employees into one app. This makes it easy for managers to track their personnel and their activities, while extending the ability to quickly call up past reports for analysis and future planning.
One key feature of the mobile app is that you don’t need additional devices to use it. Users can download it from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, Amazon App Store (for BlackBerry), and the Microsoft Windows Store to their phone or tablet. Also, it’s an enterprise solution that can be accessed online by people throughout an organization.
Another big advantage is that all Antris trip plan data is stored and shared as customized reports for administrators. This gives organizations the opportunity to dig into powerful GIS analytics and data-rich insights into their operational workflow. For example, an organization can use the Antris reporting tool, which leverages ArcGIS Online technology, to perform a hotspot analysis on common routes or destinations and easily share the map internally for reporting and planning purposes.
Here’s a sample of what that map might look like:
This news clip for CTV London features an interview with Big Brothers and Sisters of London and Area that briefly explains how the app helps this non-profit organization monitor travelling employees across an area covering roughly 3,000 km2.
The app integrates with ArcGIS Online to ensure that basemaps are always accurate and up to date. Esri Directions and Routing Services are also leveraged for point-to-point routing when location-based plans are created. Antris developed the app through the Esri Startup Program, which extends budding companies the opportunity to build GIS technology into their products for free over a three-year period. Startups also receive online services, software, training and support and content. According to Antris president Kaila Beattie, the program also helped Antris make valuable connections and build relationships in key industries, such as energy and health services, that are otherwise difficult for fledgling startups to make on their own.
Since Antris is available free for personal use, I signed up for an account to try it out and created a route to plan my commute home. I live in Toronto—a city that’s infamous for contentious car commuting—so I figured it couldn’t hurt to have an app that assures “We’ve got your back”.
I’m happy to report that the app was really easy to figure out and use. Within about 15 minutes, I downloaded the app on my iPhone, logged in to my online account through my laptop and created a plan for my drive home. When I set up my account, I made sure to add my wife as my emergency contact, just in case I got sidetracked during my stop at the Home Depot and I wouldn’t make it in time to ferry my son to his music lesson—which would be a family emergency indeed!
Just before leaving, I opened the mobile app and indicated that I was leaving. Here’s how it looked on my phone:
Shortly after arriving at my checkpoint, I received a text message asking to confirm my arrival. Once I replied, here’s the message I received via text message:
I managed to get what I needed at the store, resist my urge to check out the power drills on sale and leave the store on schedule. When I got home, I used the app to confirm my arrival, which triggered a text message to my wife’s phone, letting her know I’d arrived home safely.
Although my use of the app was limited, it’s clear why the app is popular amongst its users. Its various interfaces are cleanly designed and the functionality is intuitive and easy-to-use. For personal use, I could see it being a great way for parents to keep tabs on, say, tweens who have smartphones and big plans to venture off alone with their friends. Perhaps my 12 year-old will be downloading the Antris app sometime in the very near future.