The ghost of employment past
As is now semi-regular on a Wednesday, I had charge of Bud for the morning (dammit, that’s yesterday morning now – got distracted). Great excuse for a walk and, in this season, a swim at Double Waters.
After lunch came the expected call from his daddy, and we wandered into town to return him. I took the opportunity to use a cashpoint, and saw there at the bank a high-security van. It was evidently loading/unloading high-value cargo: a man in full-face helmet and body armour was following an elaborate procedure involving locking himself securely in the van with his load before re-appearing and going back into the bank. This happened a couple of times while I was there.
The van bore a G4S logo. But what caught my eye was protected by DataTrak. I haven’t seen that for a while, but in the distant past I worked for DataTrak, developing the technology. Indeed, it’s one of the few jobs I’ve done where I was employed primarily as mathematician rather than as software/systems hack, and the work involved some serious maths, as well as programming the devices to run embedded in 128Kb (yep, remember kilobytes? That’s how long ago) ROM.
Now, while the DataTrak work was (at its best) quite exciting, much of it had a clearly-limited lifetime. The big investment in navigation infrastructure would be doomed to obsolescence if – as seemed likely – the GPS network became a viable alternative. The data network had a longer lifetime but only until mobile telephony infrastructure offered a viable alternative at lower cost. I have idly wondered what became of Datatrak after my time.
Actually, to be honest, yes I have googled, but seeing it again in real life prompted me to revisit it. Seems it’s now a product of someone called Mix Telematics. Yes, it’s moved to GPS and GPRS, but in terms of what the brochure tells us, it’s still clearly recognisable as what I once helped develop.