If you think that tracking devices are useless things, think again. A woman whose son was killed while delivering pizza said that having a tracking device on him could have saved his life. Unions are worried about invasion of privacy, though, and these devices could be used against workers without actually increasing their safety.
Domino’s Pizza, however, chose to go on a different path than others. The company fitted 800 of its vehicles with GPS devices to track drivers as well as ensure that they are on a safe track to their destinations.
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The system set up an alert to the store if a vehicle is found to be idle for an extended period of time at a delivery address.
Auckland Pizza delivery worker Michael Choy is an example of someone who was lured to his death for pizzas—and $200. He was bashed to death with a baseball bat by a group of youths that included New Zealand’s youngest convicted killer, Bailey Kuraruki, who was 13 years old at the time.
Choy’s mother, Rita Croskery, said she believed that delivery staff should have personal alarms and that they should be accompanied by another person. This is why she welcomed the introduction of GPS technology in food delivery services, which she said should help other families and prevent them from going through the horror that she did. Her son back then did not have a phone and had nobody to come to his aid.
“Definitely, this could have saved Michael. They [his employers] could have called and known where he was and sent help immediately,” she said.
As for their part, Domino’s Pizza had concerns about driver safety and said that they would use the GPS to monitor harsh driving or speeding by its delivery staff.
Eleven stores now had the technology and could go live in all 91 stores throughout the country soon. The initiative was rated a success after its launch in Australia in July, where the company said that driver safety incidents have been reduced up to 50 percent.
Scott Bush, the New Zealand general manager, said that there have also been a number of personal physical and driving incidents while deliveries are ongoing that made the company more conscious about the drivers they are hiring.
“In the past, we have seen a certain amount of breaches in safety and security but never had access to data like this, which will play a major role in stamping these issues out,” he said. However, he did not go into detail about the said issues.
He did, however, prompt the company to roll out the new technology in their stores in New Zealand.
Speaking about this change, he shared, “They [drivers] are out and about making pizza deliveries at all times of the day, so it’s extremely important for us that our team members remain safe at all times. It also makes us a lot more transparent to our customers.”
Despite fears about unions thinking of GPS trackers as an invasion of privacy, the staff were comfortable about their reason for monitoring driving and their call for disciplinary measures. “We are taking a very staunch view on this,” he shared.
Before the company used GPS tracking, drivers were issued with cellphones, which were called in when there are causes for concern. If there is no response, someone from the store would go to the address. If further assistance is needed, the police will be alerted.
The new system should shake up the industry and encourage other food delivery businesses to think about the safety of their drivers. For now, it is encouraging the franchise’s “live pizza tracker” where citizens could track their order in real time from the store to their door, all the while getting to know their driver.
Customers, if they wish, could find their driver’s name, the music they liked and even their favorite sports team. The store, on the other hand, could track how long it would take for the driver to get back from a delivery and have the next deliveries ready and waiting to go.
This technology was inspired by the “uber-fication” movement, using similar strategies as the Uber car service. There was also the scope to evolve the system and add features for better service.
While Domino’s Pizza workers are responding positively to using GPS trackers, some service and food workers union members are less open to it. Service and Food Workers Union organizer, Russell Taylor, said that many think of it as an invasion of privacy, considering that it can be used against them instead of giving them the benefit of safety.
“Unions did not want workplaces relying on technology for health and safety,” he shared. “In our view, all workers should be within sight and sound of another person at all times.”