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city government on purchasing new technology is always a challenge, said Howard County’s Ramsay. But he added that benchmarking data, safer decisions and prevented mechanical failures, are among the many things that speak for themselves when technology investment decisions are made. It also helps his district target weak areas and improve. “I want to make sure that the superintendent and our board of education are aware of where we are with our performance, and then also with our public—just to share where we are with our performance,” he said. Ramsay commented that, “It’s inevitably going to solicit some questions, but it really gives us the ability to look into where we are and what we can do to improve.” Data and perfor- mance benchmarking help illustrate the improved managerial control a technology platform can provide, he feels. “For the 2018 year, we had one preventable accident per 89,126 miles,” Ramsay added. “For my strategic plan, I want to see a 5-percent improvement for next year. So next year, I want to get up to about one preventable accident per 93,000 miles. Ten what do we have to put in place to figure out what’s the nature of these accidents? What type of training do we have in place for our drivers? Te accountability for our [bus operator] contractors? What are they doing for training of their drivers?” Similarly, Howard County uses Transfinder technology to benchmark inspections. Ramsay recalled that inspections un- covered major issues in nearly 15 percent of the district’s buses. Te district now strives to stay below that figure, which it uses to measure improvement of inspection findings. “Let’s say we’re at 8 percent for an inspection,” he noted. “What can we do to get to 7 percent, or 6 percent?”

A CHALLENGE TO THE OLD WAY OF DOING THINGS Digital technology is an emerging tool that is growing in adoption as its benefits become more apparent. It not only pro- motes operational efficiency, but it also helps safety that might help prevent bad incidents like the tragedy in rural Indiana late last year. Jim Lovelace, who is upbeat with enthusiasm about his ex- perience with digital dashboard technology, shared his positive experiences with every district and person who will listen. He touted Transfinder Routefinder as “the single most powerful transportation tool I have ever used.” For him, he added, it provides so many options and ways of doing things that he and his staff can complete the same task several different ways. “As a transportation director, I am looking for as much

4802 W. Colonial Drive | Orlando FL 32808 Phone: 866-349-6928 44 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2019

flexibility with as much new technology as possible,” Lovelace commented. He stressed that, “Our industry is changing every day. I need to be able to be creative and challenge the old-school way of doing things. Everything from field trips, to scheduling routes to tracking day cares and student ridership is important. As state funding methods and rules change, we have to be able to change with it.” ●

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