According to Sprint, elimination of distracted driving and improved productivity are key benefits of a new application: the Sprint NextMail Locator with Photos, created by Pacific DataVision. The app is licensed for use through any Sprint phone over the entire Sprint or Nextel networks. It is based on NextMail’s push-to-talk technology. But it goes a step further.

“I think businesses have migrated to these technologies because they [want to track employees and equipment],” John Tudhope, director of solutions and vertical marketing, Sprint, told Fleet Owner.

The app converts the spoken word into an audio file, which is emailed to a dispatcher or home office. The file can be up to five minutes long. Tudhope said.

This is especially beneficial in states where cell phone use or texting are prohibited. Instead, a driver simply pushes a single button and speaks. The dispatcher can respond with a text message that the driver can read and respond to at his convenience, again by simply pushing a single button and speaking into the phone.

“This simply allows the driver to quickly communicate with the office and eliminate the time waiting [on hold],” said Dan Starr, vp--sales & marketing for NextMail.

Starr added that the app lets drivers work more efficiently. He noted that since the messages arrive in the in-box of the dispatcher with a customized subject line, messages can be scanned quickly and prioritized, allowing for immediate action when necessary.

But the app is more than just another form of communicating, according to Sprint. By using the photo capabilities of the Professional version, fleets can benefit from dispute resolution, sales leads and more.

“[Fleets are] getting a documented account of what’s happened and they have verifiable proof,” Tudhope said, adding that the program, which does not require the download of any software, can incorporate photos, speech, GPS location data and a time stamp into an archived message.

“This is not location tracking; it’s not breadcrumbs; it is not geotracking,” Starr said. “It is simply location data; where were you when [an event] happened.”

Starr said drivers can use the app to document damaged packages or deliveries that are not made for one reason or another. The photo capabilities combined with the GPS data and time stamp can enable companies to prove a delivery attempt was made or that the package was damaged at time of delivery.

Some industries, such as waste removal, are even using the technology to generate sales leads. A driver can snap a quick picture of a filled dumpster with his cell phone camera and email that information to the office. By including a voice message and GPS location of the photo, a salesman gets a lead to follow up on, all before the driver returns to the office.

The app can also be used as a time clock for mobile workers, saving time traveling to and from the office, Starr said. Drivers can simply speak into their phones that they are now “clocking in” or “clocking out,” and the system will send in that information.

“It’s a very popular product for field workers,” Starr said. He pointed out that the dispatcher has the ability to send a message out to up to 50 handsets at a time. In addition, dispatchers receive confirmation notices when the messages are heard by the driver.

While the messages must be created within the Sprint or Nextel networks, the text message can be sent across any carrier’s network.

Starr contends the app was designed for ease of use. “In any solution, it has to do with simplicity,” he said. “If it is not simple to use, the drivers will resist and it will die.”

For a demonstration of the product, click here.