Keep track — from vending machines to trashbins with GoogleMapControl APIs plus IoT

The Internet of Things is coming to places that you might not expect. Three Google Maps customers are using location-based technologies to do everything: to keep track of your lovely pets, optimize collection of trash (The Internet of Bins) or survey the stock remotely of your vending machines, and everything of course in real-time.

Over the next weeks, we’ll share stories from Google Maps customers who are building new businesses or reinventing existing ones using geolocation services and Google Maps APIs. Read on to learn how Pod Trackers, Enevo and Vagabond are using Google Maps APIs to develop Internet of Things networks.

The Internet of Things is coming to places that you might not expect. In the service industry, companies are using geolocation services and IoT to be more efficient, save money and create entirely new businesses. Today you’ll hear about three Google Maps customers using location-based technologies to do everything from stock vending machines, collect trash — even help people keep track of their pets.

Smarter trash
The Finnish Enzaveo helps communities stay on top of their waste disposal by placing wireless sensors in trash and recycle bins that measure how full they are and deliver that information via a cloud-based server. With that information, waste management firms can predict exactly when bins will need emptying and arrange pick ups just when they’re needed. Integration with Google Maps APIs allows bins to be displayed on a map at their exact location and to track waste trucks in real time. Drivers use Android tablets to see where they need to be at what time of day and what routes to take.

In addition to helping keep the streets clean of trash, Enzaveo has figured out ways to streamline operations and save money for its customers. The company has reduced the number of trucks needed on the road and the amount of time drivers spend collecting trash because they aren’t making unnecessary stops or taking inefficient routes. Enevo’s geolocation app has resulted in as much as a 50 percent reduction in costs for its customers, according to Enzaveo CTO Larko Palomäki.

Stocked vending machines
What Enzaveo is doing for trash and recycling, Washington, D.C.-based Vagabond is doing for vending machines in North and Central America. Vagabond’s IoT network allows vending machine operators to remotely see when stock is low, as well as how quickly items are selling, to arrange for refill service as the machine needs it. The sensors provide real-time data that also can identify malfunctions so broken machines can be fixed as soon as possible. Vagabond used the Google Maps Javascript API to build the web-based application that shows the vending machines as pins on a map. Clicking a pin displays data about the machine, including stock and cash levels.

By mapping sensor data, Vagabond helps operators build more efficient schedules and routes to service the machines. They also maximize profit. Because operators know which products sell best in which machines, they can tailor their inventories to meet customer demand, which increases revenue per machine by an average of 15 percent, says Michael Lovett, Vagabond co-founder and CEO. Creating efficient routes reduces the amount of overtime paid to drivers, as well as gas and truck maintenance costs. Vagabond customers are seeing as much as a 15 percent reduction in spending as well, meaning operators can increase profit margins from 2.5 percent to 20 percent, according to Lovett.

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