Drivers will soon be able to get severe weather alerts based upon their exact GPS position, according to XRS Corp., which is preparing to roll out the new application in Q1 of 2013. The company has been working with an unnamed partner to bring the alert service to customers, according to Jim Cikanek, manager, mobility for XRS.

“Weather has a big impact on transportation,” Cikanek told Fleet Owner. “Think about how helpful it would have been for fleets to be able to begin rerouting vehicles 24 to 48 hours ahead of Sandy, for instance, based upon location-specific forecasts [rather than based on regional and national weather news].”

We have been working with a company that provides patented weather information to a variety of other industries, Cikanek said. We will be combining that weather data with GPS data to provide customers with three levels of weather information: a “Before” alert that provides a 24- to 48-hour forecast, a “During” alert that gives real-time weather information to drivers who are moving toward or through a weather event, and an “After” view that will provide historical data to help customers identify opportunities to do better advanced planning.  The Before and During alerts will be available first.

According to Cikanek, the companies expect to release the new service in Q1 of 2013. “We have done most of the market analysis,” he told Fleet Owner, “now we are reviewing the contract and wrapping up a few technical details.”

The new application will operate on XRS’s android devices initially, but will also be offered for IOS systems later. XRS customers will be able to add the location-based weather alerts system as an a la carte item to the XRS services they already use.

There will be two versions of the new service, one for drivers and one for back-office use, Cikanek noted.  Customers can subscribe to one or both; there is an up-charge to add the dispatch function to the package.  “This is really for fleets of all types and sizes,” he said. “You don’t have to get the dispatch function if you don’t need it.”

The companies will also be adding other specialized weather alert packages to the new offering, including a “lightening data” package and a “tropical storms” package. Oil delivery companies, for instance, want to avoid having trucks in the area of lightening storms, noted Cikanek. Fleets in areas impacted by tropical storms may want that specialized information.