Tech­nol­ogy of Things

GPS has trans­formed the way we nav­i­gate our world, but new apps mean we will be

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Jenny Southan

Never Get Lost Again – New apps let us find any place, any time

When was the last time you got lost? Through­out my years of travel, I have spent hours strug­gling to find my way out of Shin­juku sta­tion in Tokyo, been un­in­ten­tion­ally driven into the desert by a non-English speak­ing taxi driver in Mar­rakech, pounded end­less dark roads in Bei­jing in search of my ho­tel, and have nearly been robbed by street kids in Paris when wan­der­ing into the wrong ar­rondisse­ment. Re­search from O2 Travel has sug­gested UK tourists spend an av­er­age of 22 mil­lion hours lost abroad each year. And it’s not just va­ca­tion­ers – even well or­ga­nized, smart­phone-wield­ing busi­ness trav­el­ers have this prob­lem.You might not have an In­ter­net con­nec­tion to check your where­abouts; your driver can’t read the ad­dress you have given him; you can’t de­ci­pher the street signs – if they ex­ist at all; you’re try­ing not to draw at­ten­tion to your­self by look­ing at a map; or the route you have been given is wrong. It’s stress­ful, time con­sum­ing and can leave you vul­ner­a­ble. It can also equate to in­ef­fi­ciency and a loss of earn­ings on a grand scale. Think about de­liv­ery com­pa­nies such as UPS, which sup­ply their drivers with trucks with­out doors to save them a few ex­tra sec­onds. When a drop-off lo­ca­tion is hard to find, fewer parcels can be signed for in a day. In 2013, UPS started us­ing com­puter plat­form Orion to show op­ti­mal rout­ings for the av­er­age 120 daily de­liv­er­ies each of its drivers has to per­form on a pos­si­ble 55,000 US routes. The al­go­rithm, run­ning at 1,000 pages long, is ex­pected to save the com­pany $300 to $400 mil­lion a year when fully up and run­ning in 2017. A sav­ing of one mile a day per driver would mean UPS would be $50 mil­lion a year bet­ter off.

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