Delivery Tracking

While lamenting the waste of a day waiting for a “7am-7pm” delivery which didn’t turn up, a friend of mine put the following on Facebook:

“The first delivery company to give a live schedule of how they reckon deliveries will pan out during the day, and keep it up-to-date, so you can at least see where you are in the queue… will make a fortune”

That got me to thinking, how hard would this be? Superficially I don’t think this is too hard a problem to solve using current technology. The hardest bit is the route planning and we can turn to Google for that. So what do we need for an MVP?

I’m thinking a driver app that contains an ordered list of postcodes, interspersed with any breaks the driver may have. The ability to reorder the drops and/or breaks. The ability to mark a drop as done. Here the definition of done is that delivery was attempted. Each time an update is made the app phones home with the current location and an ordered list of outstanding drops and breaks.

A server sits in the middle listening for these updates. Using the current location as the starting point the server will then traverse the drop off points querying Google to find out how long it will take to drive between each point. Store the time to each post code (including any breaks) with the post code.

A client page can then be used to query the server. It would find the correct ordered list of post codes, look up your post code and report how far down the list you are and how long, roughly, until the delivery will be with you.

Of course, the devil is in the detail, and integrating this with the drivers current handheld units, the parcel tracking software and everything else would take some thought, but the basic premis is there. If you were familiar with the Google APIs you could probably knock together a demo web page showing the drivers view at the top and the customers view at the bottom in a couple of days.