Tasker: Lone Worker streamlining

Tasker is one of the top reasons I regularly give when asked why I prefer Android to iOS. The app was designed to provide a means to run tasks based on contexts as defined by the user. For example, turning the notification volume on the phone to silent at night or reading out text messages received while driving. Through the wide range of triggers, actions, and third-party plug-ins it is effectively a visual programming language for Android devices that can be used for more complex applications. The above video shows an example of using Tasker to automate signing in and out as part of a lone worker procedure. The video shows version 1.0. After initial field-testing a small revision was made to add another screen that displays the details to be used for confirmation before sending the sign in text.

Version 1.1, therefore, includes the initial task that launches a scene through which a contact to sign in with can be selected. Then the sign in task grabs a list of any events from the calendar over a twenty minute window before and after the current time. From the calendar events each of the following are added to a set of arrays: event title (who the interview is with), location (the participant’s home address where the interview is taking place), and details (the participant’s contact number). A regex is then used to find the position in the event title array of any event who’s title begins with ‘Interview’ .  The full event details are then taken from the other arrays and alongside an expected sign out time are sent in a text message to the chosen contact.

Having signed in, a permanent notification is created through which it is possible to sign out or to raise an alarm if the researcher is in danger. Both require a confirmation button to be pressed to avoid accidental selection. The sign out task sends a text to notify the chosen contact that the interview is over, removes the permanent notification, and clears all the variables used in the tasks. Red Alert sends a text raising the alarm, and offers a notification option to call the contact as well. Finally, if the sign out task has not run by the expected sign out time, the phone vibrates and requests an estimate in minutes of how much longer the interview is expected to take. The entered value is then added into a text message in the format: “Sorry, running over, should be another X minutes roughly”.

As well as a general post on Tasker I am working on as part of a planned series of posts on ‘useful apps & services for academics’, I am also aiming in the next few weeks to have a short guide written for how to create within Tasker the lone worker sign in automation shown in the video.

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