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Special Report Decisions, Decisions


Video technology may be getting more complex, but when the


purchasing time arrives, a focus remains on assisting bus drivers


WRITTEN BY ERIC WOOLSON S


chool bus technology is more advanced than ever—and it doesn’t stop marching ahead. But the process of choos- ing the right solution when upgrading equipment will remain largely unchanged for years to come, say early


adopters and industry professionals. “I don’t believe the decision-making is all that tough. … A carpenter, a mechanic, anyone who uses tools in their job, knows that you can’t go to bed and have a tool magically do your job for you. You have to know how to use them,” explains Caleb Williams, assistant director of transportation at the College Station (Texas) Independent School District. “Technology is another tool in the tool box. When it comes to technology and the decision-making process, you’re always going to need humans to sort out what’s going to work, or not.” Te important thing to remember about choosing technology solutions is to play the game on your home field, he said. Williams recounted an occasion when a vendor proposed a routing software package for the 12,534-student district. “I told him, ‘You can show me how it works in some town I


don’t know, but show me how it works in my town,’” Williams explained. “He did and I said, ‘Tat’s got to be the worst route I’ve ever seen.’ Our city has a lot of crowned roads and drainage ditches for flood mitigation that really affect traffic flow and routing. Tat


18 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2019


wasn’t programmed into his routing software. I could see that right away, because I know my town.” Rob Scott, vice president of 247 Security, which specializes in school bus and pupil transportation solutions, agreed. “You want to get the answer in a way you understand it. Tere’s no reason in the world you shouldn’t say to a supplier, ‘Prove it. Demonstrate it to me in a real way. Show it to me in a way that meets my requirements.’” Williams recalled joining the district 15 years ago as a substitute


driver, when features varied from bus to bus, due to low-bid purchasing. His vehicle, he remembered, “looked like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with all these knobs and buttons and stuff that looked like they were out of the 1950s.” He decided there had to be a better way. As his career has advanced, he’s dedicated himself to closing


the technology gap between cars and yellow buses, and finding cost-effective safety, management and comfort solutions. He said he feels fortunate to have a supervisor who listens to suggestions, and to be working for a district that is located near the Texas Transportation Institute, which is operated under the auspices of Texas A&M University. “All of that means we’re already of that mindset of looking to the


future,” said Williams. His district provides in-the-field feedback to video surveillance and fleet management solutions provider Seon.


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