Introduction

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This chapter focuses on the importance of location in mobile collaborative

work. The interest in the topic derives from the rapid technological development

in mobile data communication and positioning systems, which facilitates

the development of mobile position-based services. The potential to support

various mobile occupational groups, as well as supporting leisure activities,

emerges. However, current services have not yet reached a major breakthrough

in the market.

We argue the need for a detailed understanding of users’ behavior to succeed

in the development of such new services. The purpose of this chapter is to bring

forth an ethnographic study on collaboration among mobile workers. We

discuss how truly mobile occupational groups, working on the road, relate to

locations in their vast working area when collaborating with each other. Their

work setting has predominantly been described from a perspective where they

are isolated in the driver’s seat. However, we will examine their relation to the

surroundings when performing their tasks.

The occupational groups studied consist of bus drivers and road inspectors.

Both groups constantly move around in a vast area while performing their tasks.

They are not only collaborating with colleagues far remote, but as all other road

users they also adapt their actions to the surrounding traffic. Geographical

locations along their routes are important in the interaction between the

workers. An understanding of this dependency plays an important role in the

design of mobile position-based services supporting collaborative activities.

The chapter is organized as follows. First we consider related research on place

and space, mobile work and the physical environment as a resource in mobile

collaborative work. We continue by describing our methodological approach,

followed by the empirical material, introducing the two occupational groups

and presenting excerpts from the fieldwork. Finally we summarize and conclude

the chapter.