BUSINESS

GeodeVu, New App, Lets Parents Track Speed, Hard Braking, Distracted Driving

05/18/2015 02:00 EDT | Updated 05/18/2016 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - A new smartphone app means parents can now be backseat drivers to their kids, without having to leave home, and an Internet and privacy lawyer says its use raises some interesting questions.

Fredericton-based GeodeTech has released its GeodeVu tracking app that records a driver's route along with driving behaviours, such as speeding, hard braking, and even distracted driving.

"We call our product a solution for driver analysis and behaviour coaching," said Michel Chiasson, the company's CEO.

"As you start driving around, what's going to happen is you will see the true behaviours coming through," he said.

The app can be downloaded for free on Android, iOS and Blackberry 10 phones, while the tracking service will cost you a monthly rate of $9.95.

The app uses the GPS and other functions in the driver's phone to track its location, and whether it's used for calls or texting while the car is in motion.

Parents concerned with ongoing driver training can log into a website to see where and how their child has been driving.

"What are the great behaviours that we want to reinforce and what are things that we want to change?" said Chiasson.

Chiasson said his company has lots of competitors but right now it's the only one that is tracking distracted driving.

"We think we have something very unique in the fact that we are leveraging the technology in mobile phones," he said.

Aside from tracking young drivers, GeodeTech is promoting its service to companies with fleet vehicles, and to insurance companies to rate drivers for good driver rebates.

Chiasson said the app now has just over 1,000 users, and is about to start making a profit.

"We have some very strong momentum where we have one of the top three beer distributors in North America as a client, also one of the top three retailers in Canada ready to go for a pilot project, and one of the top 10 North American insurance carriers about to sign with us."

David Fraser, a lawyer with the firm McInnes Cooper in Halifax, said the advent of smartphones has made it easier and cheaper to track people, and raises a number of privacy concerns.

He said companies can track your driving and location if it is reasonable under the circumstances, such as a company needing to know where their trucks are and if they are being driven properly.

But Fraser said it should never be done covertly.

"You should always make sure that if it is being used for employees that they are told that this is happening, and that they are told about the policies that are underlying it," he said.

He said the same applies to the driving habits of your child.

Chiasson said his company is providing the software and service, and it's up to the end user to deal with any privacy concerns.

"There are privacy laws in place, however, employers would have to defend that if there is a challenge in court," Chiasson said.

But he defends the technology, saying it's no different than putting a camera in your house to watch the kids in the playroom to ensure they are safe.

GeodeTech plans to store the driving information indefinitely, prompting Fraser to say people should consider the increasing amount of information that's kept about all of us.

"As long as the information exists, it can be obtained," he said. "We are producing a lot of digital exhaust in our lives — information about where we've been, what we're doing, where our phones are, and all that sort of information."

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