efficient software options are also important. For example, Thien said that when parents request their district share the location of the bus (think Lyft or Uber), that’s usually not the real goal. “What they’re really asking for is to know precisely when their student

should walk out the door to meet the bus,” he added. Sharing the bus location, while possible, isn’t usually the best way to

solve the problem. In fact, Thien pointed out that it can lead to more prob- lems, such as parents trying to chase down a missed bus. Perhaps a better option instead of configuring the app so the parent can see the map or real time bus location, he suggested, is simply to provide live-updated ETAs. Not to be overlooked are provisions for receiving feedback to make

improvements. For Durham School Services, feedback is tracked by dis- patchers and an operations team. “They are the ones using it and are often made aware by our parents if

there is anything that needs to be corrected with the app,” Boettcher said. Often this is as simple as updating the bus on the route. Boettcher suggested, “When the regularly assigned bus is scheduled for

service, the operations team needs to make sure the correct replacement is assigned and updated in the system, so that our parents are able to properly see the bus arrival on their route.” The Here Comes the Bus app, which Cal/Amp acquired last year when

purchasing Synovia Solutions, can be enhanced with a student ridership feature that tracks students as they board and depart buses. A team of customer support professionals is also available to help parents and fleet directors work through technical issues. “When combined, the app can provide an experience akin to what airlines deliver when tracking aircraft arrivals and departures, and the whereabouts of luggage in transit,” said Here Comes the Bus spokesman Bryan Mitchell. Tyler Technologies takes several steps to foster communications with

clients. Through a community forum, users can access tips and tricks from other clients, support reps, and the company’s development team. In turn, the team picks up user suggestions about its apps from the

same forum. The team also holds an annual user conference that includes classes and forums for clients, plus additional feedback opportunities. Clients can also make suggestions through an option within the rout-

ing software. Comments are reviewed by the development team, and where warranted, incorporated into app updates. In some cases, this pro- cess incudes direct responses to the originator of the suggestion. Whatever the options are with any given app, school systems that have

not yet explored tracking systems may want to investigate the possi- bilities they offer. “I cannot imagine a system without a parent app and district dashboard,” Riveros admitted. “We are hooked on it.” At the same time, Riveros highlighted that planners must be prepared

for the work that is involved in rolling out a new system. But in the end, it should be worth the effort. “As part of our district five-year strategic plan, we work to ensure that buses are trusted as safe places by students, parents and staff,” Riveros confirmed. “Knowing where your child is on a bus in the community adds to our transparency, and aids everyone in further trusting us with their most precious cargo, their children.” ●

Ensuring students get on the right bus and get off at the right stop since 2013

Smallville Independent School District *011068*


Student Tracking/ Authorization

GPS Fleet Tracking

Pre/Post-Trip Inspection

Automated Reports

512.686.2360 35

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