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School Bus IQ S


chool district transportation departments across America will agree that priority No. 1 is stu- dent safety. Tis can be achieved in many ways, one of which is being tracked by the use GPS. Known to many because of consumer


applications like Garmin and Tom-Tom, GPS basically uses signals from satellites to tell you where you are and to give directions to other places. But for commercial fleets, it means so much more. Telematics is the actual vehicle data that


comes from GPS usage and can encompass telecommunications, vehicular technologies, electrical engineering, road safety, and In- ternet service. Together, GPS and telematics have been used in the school bus industry for the past decade but only over the last few years has the power of them been fully realized, as demonstrated by several districts


40 School Transportation News • APRIL 2016


The opportunities are endless when it comes to using GPS to pull big-money data from school buses WRITTEN BY BARB FASING


from across the nation that are leading the technology trend.


One of these is Oak Park River Forest


High School District 200 near Chicago, which uses Verizon Networkfleet On- board Telematics. Ron Johnson, director of transportation, said this system works through a tamper-proof cable connected to a computer behind the dashboard that sends data alerting the department of problems via email. “We use email as a delivery set up method because more information can be transmitted that way instead of the texting method,” Johnson said. An example of real-time telematics


reporting would be to include monitoring of spark plugs and other engine parts which may be malfunctioning. But more so, it’s positively affecting student safety. “Since the implementation of the telematics, there have been no bus ac-


Ron Johnson, director of purchasing and transportation at Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 near Chicago, reviews audio and video camera footage as well as a GPS dashboard.


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