School bus tracking today is often a mandatory requirement in many parts of India and the rest of the world. Many schools have already deployed such systems.
But often with limited success. In this blog, I have tried to summarize the essential requirements of a good school bus tracking solution both from a parent’s and the school’s perspective.
Essential requirements in a school bus tracking solution:
- Does the solution help the parents feel comfortable and secure? Parent’s ability to track their child’s bus with ease gives them a tremendous sense of security. It is also a very helpful tool while dropping and picking the child from the bus. It is even more important on days when there are unplanned delays due to traffic, the vehicle breaks down or other reasons. The right solution helps reduce the parent’s anxiety and reduces unnecessary calls to the school admin.
- The school management must be able to leverage the system in using the fleet more efficiently.
- Are the routes optimally planned?
- Are the schedules being maintained?
- Are the drivers driving safely?
- Is there any misuse of vehicles?
- In case there is a vehicle change or some support issue will the vendor provide me quick support?
- Is the solution compatible with the existing school ERP system?
- A continuous inward-facing camera with a full view is a very critical deterrent in preventing unwanted activities. Given the current state of network infrastructure in India in general, real-time live video is a little impractical. So at least a continuously recording infrastructure is a good tool as a deterrent as well as for analysis when needed.
Drilling down to more hardware, software and other offering feature sets, here below is a more detailed checklist one can use to help decide the right school bus tracking solution and the right vendor.
Vehicle Tracking Hardware:
- Is GPS accuracy good? Look for CEP 95 error less than 3 meters
- Is the update rate at least 20 seconds or less? Meaning one location packet uploaded every 20 seconds.
- Is it capable of Over speed detection?
- Is it capable of Harsh breaking detection?
- Is it capable of Harsh acceleration detection?
- Is it capable of Harsh cornering detection?
- Is it capable of interfacing with an external Buzzer or speaker to alert the driver in real-time when he is over speeding or any other driving violations?
Software Application Suite:
- Is the user interface friendly and intuitive?
- Insist on standard tracking features like live tracking and replay map views, history route view, textual location/trip data, distance reports, summary utilization reports
- For school’s safety should be paramount and must insist on a good safety dashboard where the quality of driving can be quickly analyzed to take corrective actions.
- Is the mobile app for parents simple to use? You do not want to make too many support calls.
- Do they support both Android and iPhone?
- Is there an easy way to map school route numbers to specific vehicles? This is key because sometimes a bus may be replaced and this whole backend operation must be transparent to the parent.
- Minimum 2 Megapixel
- Wide-angle view
- Must support night vision with infrared LED
- WIFI download to school server when the bus comes to school premises
- 4G connectivity is a nice to have.
- Is the vendor reliable and trustworthy? Insist on a minimum 5-year history with a good customer record.
- Do they have a good field and back end support team for prompt support if required?
- Is it their own technology or are they merely trading? Are they willing to customize the software reports etc. for you if needed?
There are some other features like RFID that are often paired in with the school bus tracking solution but with limited results. Typically, they integrate an RFID reader in the bus which is usually also coupled to the on-board vehicle tracking system. Each child is given an RFID card and the child is expected to swipe on entry/exit from the bus. Such a solution is not very popular due to many reasons.
Firstly, ensuring the child swipes each time is not easy. Secondly swiping and corresponding alerts generated have limited benefits in providing a sense of security to the parent since often, the parent himself/herself is picking and dropping the child on the bus. Other times it is usually someone highly trusted by the parent.
While the technology is simple and not very expensive has seen limited success. Additional technology for tracking child attendance/location in school/etc. is a totally different matter and not necessarily to be coupled with the bus tracking solution.
I hope this post helps you wisely decide the right school bus tracking solution for your school.