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Traffic, GPS time and history in ParaPlan Chase

30 January

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ParaPlan Chase got a few new features today. To use ParaPlan Chase, click the “Chase” button on any route with an iOS device in Scheduling Canvas.

Traffic

ParaPlan Chase will now show current traffic conditions. Green is good, yellow is slow and red is really slow.

Date Stamp

Hovering over a GPS point will now show the current speed and the time the GPS point was recorded.

History

Click the current GPS icon to show the entire history of that driver – even if they were in a different vehicle. You can also hover over the points to see the time and the speed.

ParaPlan for iOS v 1.4.6

27 January

ParaPlan for iOS screenshot

Apple just approved version 1.4.6 of ParaPlan Mobile on the App Store.

This version is mostly bug fixes and performance improvements, but we’ve added some nice new touches as well.

Collecting signatures

The entire workflow around signature collection has been rebuilt. It is faster to get to the signature screen and signatures upload faster than ever. They also look much nicer.

Smarter comments

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Client and trip comments now “bubble up” from the bottom of the screen when a driver arrives at a pick up location. The comments will automatically go away after 10 seconds, or if the driver manually dismisses them. This allows drivers to see critical information about a client without having to drill into the details.

Copays

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Drivers can now record collected copays. They can specify the amount of collection and the type of collection (cash, voucher, ticket). Partial payments and overpayments are also allowed. However, in the interest of simplicity, the driver just has to click on the copay field and it will assume payment was collected in full with the default payment type (set in Admin on ParaPlan Desktop). If there was a partial payment or overpayment or a different payment type, the driver can touch again to edit the payment. The most common action is the default allowing the driver to quickly get back to work.

Clients that require copays to be collected have the amount displayed sideways next to their name on the manifest. When the driver sees this, they should click into Trip Details and click the copay amount. This will record it as collected and the amount will not be displayed on the front screen. If the driver clicks again on the copay amount it will open a screen where they can edit the details.

Odometers

We spent a lot of time perfecting our odometer collection algorithms. I mean, A LOT OF TIME. We think we are pretty close to perfect, but drivers should still check in on the settings screen to make sure our calculated odometer matches the vehicle odometer. Newer iPhones and iPad with the motion coprocessor will see dramatic improvements and the calculated odometer should be dead-on, day after day.

Improvements to iPad

Bouncing around between screens is no good and can leave a driver feeling out of control. On the iPad version, we put the settings in a popover controller on the front screen instead of having it in its own separate tab.

Speaking of the settings screen, the connection information is smarter and only runs on demand. It also displays the type of cellular connection.

We are building up our mobile FAQs on Freshdesk. Now drivers can can view the FAQs from inside the app. Just click into settings to see the new button. Drivers can also submit tickets directly from the app.

 

Use QueryBuilder to get a list of all places

30 July

Excel logo 2

With ParaPlan, getting data out of the system and into another format like PDF or Excel is easy. Here is a simple tutorial to get all the Places to Excel using our Query Builder.

  1. Click Reports > Query Builder.
  2. Click Load from text, a new window will appear.
  3. Copy the following text into the window, then close the window:

    Manager:PlaceManager
    Method:GetAll
    Shape:
    Where:
    Select:new (StopName, Address, Comment, ID)

  4. Click Execute.
  5. Click Export to Excel.

The list of all the places in the system are now displayed in Excel, where any number of formulas or manipulations could be performed.

Google features EnGraph in 2013 Economic Report

18 July

Kyle 2013 ks

This week, Google released their 2013 Economic Report and EnGraph was highlighted as a featured business in Kansas! Google products, especially Google AdWords, have been a huge part of our recent growth. We really enjoyed working with Wendy at Google during this process and couldn’t be happier with the final result.

As a bonus, Lenexa (the city of our headquarters) was chosen as 2013 eCity. We are proud to be part of the strongest online business community in Kansas.

EnGraph is in good company with some really neat businesses also featured in this report from other states. Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio and University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota were also highlighted. AmpleHarvest.org from New Jersey is working to supply food pantries with local produce. Lyman Orchards from Connecticut is the twelfth-oldest family owned business in the US (since 1741).

We are proud to be part of this group and we look forward to working with Google for a very long time.

Search by PO or InvoiceID

17 June

Recently, we added the ability to include PO numbers or other reference text with invoices. Today, we added the ability to search on this new data field.

To use, click All Elements > Invoices > Search By ID or Ref. As the name suggests, it will also search on the InvoiceID field. The returned results will include exact searches on InvoiceID and pattern searches on Reference. 

Geo-fence scheduling with ParaPlan

09 June

Routeann

 

Geo-fencing is a powerful tool in scheduling trips. ParaPlan uses geo-fences called zones to label specific geographic areas. Recently, we talked about how to create zones from GPX files and how to create zones from a city name. Today, we are going to talk about how zones can be used during autoschedule to keep vehicles working in a specific region of the service area.

As a recap, zones restrict routes to only perform trips that start and stop in that zone. A route labeled North that is set up around downtown and northern suburbs would not be eligible to perform a trip for Mrs. Jones on the south side of the city. Eligible means that ParaPlan will not auto schedule Mrs. Jones to a route in the North zone. It also means that the reservation for Mrs. Jones will not include North routes on the quick trip assignment. Only routes that contain south side zones OR no zone at all will be in the route drop down list on the reservation screen. This is a new feature in ParaPlan and will greatly reduce scheduling errors during the reservation intake phase.

We typically see three different types of trips, geographically speaking. Service-based trips, needs-based trips and out of town trips.

Service

Servicebased

Service-based trips would cover trips to the grocery store, bank, or the drugstore. These trips are short in distance and short in duration. Usually they occur within the bounds of a single city. Quite frequently, it makes the most the sense for the driver to wait for the client to finish their business, then take them back home. When setting up a zone to perform service-based trips, a good design would encompass the residential and commercial areas of a city or suburban area.

Needs

Need based

Needs-based trips typically transport a client to a specialized facility. This could be a daycare or dialysis center. Generally, these places are centrally located and serve individuals from a large region. To set up zones to service these trips, include several known residential areas and the central downtown district.

Out of town

Out of town trips can have zones if the situation calls for it. If there are frequent trips to a facility over 50 miles away then creating a zone that encompasses both areas would make sense. Otherwise, just don’t assign a zone to a route. This will make the route eligible to perform any trip.

Smarter scheduling

By knowing the kinds of trips being performed, users can set up a medley of service-based and needs-based routes to efficiently schedule a large batch of trips. This will keep vehicles working in a very specific region. It is much better for drivers to stay in familiar areas. If they are comfortable driving the bus and appear relaxed, the passengers will also feel more comfortable. We understand how important this is for special needs transportation.

How to get APN device token from ParaPlan iOS

01 June

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Every iOS device that runs ParaPlan has a device token that we use to directly communicate with that device. This is how we send out push notifications to a specific driver when they have changes to their manifest.

Sometimes, we need to be sure that a device is correctly configured, so we may ask you to send us the device token. To accomplish this, go to the Settings tab, then long press on the logout button. After a few seconds, the share sheet will be displayed and the device token can be emailed directly to EnGraph.

Add PO numbers to Invoices

29 May

Amazon WorkSpaces

Invoices often have purchase orders or billing codes that the recipient needs to record when processing the invoice. We have just added support for this in ParaPlan Billing.

When generating a new invoice, enter the billing code or PO into the Reference field and we will display that value on the invoice. We will also remember this Reference and associated it with the funding source. This means the next time an invoice is generated for that funding source, the Reference field will be pre-populated.

Happy invoicing!

Create simple geofences based on city

21 May

 

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In our last post, we talked about creating complex geofences by drawing on a map and how that will keep routes working in a specific location. As a simpler alternative we also support geofences based on a city.

Simply create a new zone called “City of Gaffney” and that will keep any routes that are assigned to that zone working only in that city. A common workflow would be to have several routes assigned to the “City of Gaffney” zone that would do all the in-city trips and then several additional routes that are not assigned to any zone that would be eligible to perform the trips that go out of the city limits.

A slightly more complicated example would be the Greenville metro where there are urban and suburban cities. For these cases, we support zones with multiple cities. An agency in this area would have zones that looked like:

“City of Greenville, Mauldin,Simpsonville, Fountain Inn” – This would take people from the south side to downtown.
“City of Greenville, Powdersville, Easley” – This would bring people in from the west side.
“City of Greenville, Taylors, Greer”  – This would cover all the east side trips.
“City of Greenville, Travelers Rest” – This would be for trips to and from the north side of town.

This feature is an easy way to keep vehicles working in the same place, where they are most familiar, instead of spreading them all over the service area. This is good for the drivers and a good way to save on gas. 

How to create a geofence from GPX

21 May

Addgeofence

We are almost done with a feature in ParaPlan Desktop that will allow route planners to set up geofences around their routes to keep them working in a specific area of town. In preparation for that, we have added support for direct importing of GPX files to create the geofences.

Here is a quick tutorial:

  1. On the sidebar, click All Elements, then Zones.
  2. In the Zone Finder, click New Zone. A blank zone window will open up.
  3. Open a web browser and navigate to http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/draw/
  4. Click the Track button on the right-side toolbox.
  5. Click on the map to create the geofence. Be sure to circle back to the first point and click it to complete the shape.
  6. Click the GPX button on the right-side toolbox. This will generate a link to a GPX file that can be downloaded to the computer.
  7. Back to ParaPlan and the new Zone window, click Bulk Lat/Long insert, then click Import GPX file. Select the file that was downloaded in step 6.
  8. Label the new Zone.
  9. Click Save and Close.

Route planners can now assign routes to the Zone, and ParaPlan will only schedule trips in that area to that route.