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He mentioned the compatibility of 247’s 1080p and 360-degree solution with 720p and IP cameras as another example of the sort of networkability that buyers need to consider. Don Carter, director of transportation with the Port St. Lucie

(Florida) Public School District, has seen technology come a long way since his days as a 16-year-old student bus driver in North Carolina. While the questions are often the same, who has the final word does have a big impact on outcomes, he said. Some states set specifications that districts must follow and may

even have responsibility for equipment purchases. Florida has a specifications committee that sets minimum standards and gives local districts leeway to add options. “When it comes to the actual purchase process, I’m fortunate I make the decision without any interference in what I believe is the best interests of student safety and driver comfort,” Carter said. “Once I get a budget amount, I get however many buses I can get with the money I have.” While Florida provides an extra level of care by requiring bus drivers

to give hand signals to children when it’s safe to approach, that hasn’t eliminated the dangers of cars blowing through stop arms. Port St. Lucie is a testing ground for a camera-equipped radar system that is attached to existing stop arms that will sound a warning—inside and outside the bus—if an approaching vehicle isn’t likely to stop.

“We have it on 10 buses. Drivers like it. We’re providing feedback to Seon and the system is also providing information to them,” Carter said. “As they see something they want to tweak, they’ll come down on the weekend and do it.” Rick Grisham, executive director of the Cobb County (Georgia) School District, is adamant that “no bus should operate without communication devices, digital video inside and outside the bus, and GPS.” In his district, turn-key stop-arm enforcement exterior cameras

have cut violations in half, with shared revenues reinvested in safety-sensitive initiatives, and front windshield cameras now track outside activity. “We must, and will, do everything within our means to keep students safe,” he said. Grisham’s team is currently reviewing the pros and cons of student RFID tags, on-bus tablets, systems with capabilities to go wireless with live video, social media software that provides real-time updates, plus apps that can tell parents where a particular bus is within a few miles. “We’re weighing convenience as well as safety,” he said. In the end, Grisham counseled, “No technology or program is paramount or can replace a well-trained and professional driver. … A lot of common sense with fiscal sustainability is key.” ●


Content. Community. Commerce. July 26–31, 2019

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