who illegally pass school buses, or to monitor student—and driver—behavior inside the vehicle, video camera sys- tems require much more forethought than simply deciding which system to purchase. With that safety need comes many

questions that must be clarified. Who will install the camera systems, and how? Is training from the vendor avail- able to the school district on how the systems work? What technical require- ments must the school bus operation meet? In many cases, installation is up to the district, with some help provided by the state. A School Transportation News reader

survey conducted in November 2019 indicated that training on how to use systems, and a lack of follow-through by vendors, are the leading challenges that school districts face. Over 56 percent of readers reported via the survey that requests for proposals and bids for surveillance cameras in- clude requirements that vendors provide installation and training. But another 31 percent indicated they aren’t sure if installation and training is included. Meanwhile, one-third of readers who

responded to a question about the biggest challenges they face when installing new technology cited a lack of training from the vendor. And 16 percent of readers pointed to some kind of ongoing support issue as their biggest challenge.

Capturing the Entire Scene John Ryan is the school bus shop manager for Warsaw Community Schools in northern Indiana. He said that his district explored different camera systems and had many questions for each respective vendor. “We came to use our current provider, due mainly to the response and helpfulness of its tech department,” he added. Ryan explained that the external cam- eras show the details of any stop-arm violation, whether the fault lies with the violating motorists, or improper pro- cedures by the school bus driver. “The

pendulum swings both ways,” noted Ryan. “Our latest units have the 360-de- gree surround system on them. [The cameras] look good from the start. We will see how they progress.” Installing video technology, however,

remains an arduous and complex task that many districts are still getting their arms around. In order for the camera systems to be truly effective, appropriate training is often needed to accompany the installation. According to many industry profes-


Readers who said installation and training requirements are outlined in RFPs or bids for new technology.

(Based on 171 responses to an STN survey conducted in

November 2019.)

sionals who spoke to STN for this article, training is often included in the total in- stallation package. Still, others commented that training was not included at all. One director of transportation was unable to disclose any specifics. He said sharing details could undermine an open request for proposal. Video equipment vendors said train- ing extends to equipment selection that is sufficient to achieve safety objectives. “Recording technology has now evolved to include features such as event calcula- tion with G-force and collision warning (ADAS), and streaming video live in up to 10 cameras inside and outside the bus,” explained Peter Plate, vice president of sales and marketing for Rosco Vision Systems in Queens, New York. “When a fleet considers recording today, the [school district] should open the scope to consider all technology, then pare down to current needs plus realistic wants that have validity for the next five years.” For John Lambusta, director of trans-

portation for Williamsburg and James City County Public Schools in Virginia, acquisition begins with a request for in- formation (RFI), accompanied by a packet from the vendor on its capabilities. This allowed the district to narrow down the vendors that would directly compete for the contract. “We looked at all of those packets,” said Lambusta. “We had a group of six people that were part of the selection process. Each of us independently reviewed each of those packets. We needed to look at selection criteria of approximately 10 to 12 37

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