New GPS App for BlackBerry, WinMo Locates Kidnapped Execs–and Wayward Staffers
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
If you’re a road warrior who consistently finds yourself in less-than-safe environs during travels, you may want to take a look at a new software application for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices that lets your employers keep tabs on your whereabouts via your GPS-enabled smartphone. But be forewarned, the Executrac Mobile GPS Tracker from BrickHouse Security also enables your company to track you without your knowledge, wherever you may roam.
Companies can remotely and “invisibly” deploy Executrac to as many corporate devices as needed, presumably via a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or Microsoft Exchange Server. The program runs completely unbeknownst to users, and can be activated at any time by administrators, but users can also trigger the tracking functionality in emergency situations via a “panic button.”
The software is designed to be a last resort for folks who find themselves in potentially-life threatening situations while traveling.
A Web-based mapping platform shows administrators employee locations in real-time, accurate within 15 to 50 feet (5 to 15 meters). And the program integrates with Google Earth, so those admins can get a look at remote employee surroundings.
Admins can also set “geofence safety zone alerts” so they’re notified when staffers leave designated safe zones. And BrickHouse claims that Executrac Mobile consumes less than 15 percent of your smartphone’s battery life over a 24-hour period, so it shouldn’t significantly affect device performance.
That’s all fine and good if you’re traveling to Qatar or Juarez–just look how pleased the executive in the Executrac image (above) is to not be kidnapped. However, the fact that the application can be enabled without any sort of notification to users is disconcerting to me.
One line from BrickHouse’s site in particular rubs me the wrong way: “…an employee will never be tipped off to the fact that their BlackBerry is doing double duty as a covert GPS Tracker.” That just sounds like it could’ve come directly from the tongue of Big Brother himself.
I’ve reviewed a number of smartphone-based GPS tracking services, including TeleNav Track, and they all had some sort of privacy protection measures, which Executrac seems to lack.
The app costs $19.99 for “unlimited tracking. But then again, can you really put a price on not being kidnapping in a strange land?
Executrac works on most popular BlackBerry devices, but the company does not yet support the Storm 95xx. Windows Mobile devices like the AT&T Tilt, Motorola Q9h and Samsung BlackJack II are also supported. For a full list of compatible devices, as well as additional details on the product, visit BrickHouse’s site.
Note: BrickHouse also offers a variety of additional gizmos and gadgets to satisfy all of your espionage-related needs, including “007 Spy Gear.”
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.