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NEW YORK CITY-The New York City Department of Buildings says it will begin tracking the whereabouts of its 379 inspectors with Global Positioning Technology or GPS. According to a statement, starting on Monday, the Department start following the first group of its inspectors through the use of the new GPS technology installed in Department issued cell phones. The department says the new program will help supervisors identify the closest inspectors to assign to emergency incidents and pinpoint the location of an inspector if he or she loses contact with a supervisor.

DOB adds that by the end of September, the routes of all construction inspectors, as well as the inspectors of boilers, cranes and derricks, electrical, elevators and plumbing units will be monitored through their cell phones, helping ensure the integrity of building inspections and employee safety.

The new GPS tracking system uses a web-based system where inspection unit heads will be able to monitor the real time movements of their inspectors from a computer at their work-stations or any computer for that matter. The unit heads will get a password to access the system. Daily routes of inspectors will be ‘electronically recorded and stored’ in a department database.

A September, 2004 CNET article noted the rising interest in GPS tracking of “field” employees when it pointed out that mobile tracking firm “Xora” said 1,600 corporate customers had signed up for its services, including “geofences” technology which will actually set off an alarm back at the office if workers stop off at a bar, or maybe take a trip to the park for some afternoon sun.

Meanwhile, NYCDOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri says in the Department’s statement that “this new GPS-tracking system is a simple, innovative way to ensure inspectors reach their assigned locations and are held accountable for their important work.”

Also, First Deputy Commissioner Gatma Amer says, “We have asked the construction industry to raise its standards, and this new tool will help us raise ours,” adding this will improve efficiency. The DOB says that in fiscal year 2009, DOB inspectors performed more than 445,000 inspections, what it says is a 1% increase when compared to the year before.

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