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A status update of video cameras utilized by Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia alongside a realtime view into and around a district school bus.


and have it leveraged to allow people to use it to make the safest possible decisions for each student.” Dell pointed out that some technologies are fairly


open and well developed and some do not integrate well with others. “It’s not easy to provide technology solutions in this space because there are some highly specialized technol- ogies,” he said. “It’s difficult for anyone to say they are best in class in everything that needs to be done on student routes, driver training, cameras and other technologies.” Transfinder’s Civitella said he believes some vendors choose to be proprietary “to make it difficult for their existing client base to ever switch to another product be- cause they won’t be able to save anything they’ve done for years. That has discouraged a lot of school districts to move off some of these systems,” he shared. Civitella agreed it’s impossible for one company to of-


fer everything “from A to Z,” pointing out that end users want interoperability to avoid doing dual entry. To that end, Transfinder’s Marketplace is a way for third-party companies to utilize the data stored in its software. Marketplace offers a suite of solutions from vendor partners including GPS, parent apps, cameras, tablets, turn-by-turn navigation, field trips, vehicle mainte- nance, communications, attendance, redistricting, data access from SIS, and data access viewing and reporting. End users create their own dashboards and analyze and customize data, making it easier to get KPIs from one source, he said. Meanwhile, Zonar Systems offers Z Pass, which helps


parents and bus drivers track students getting on and off the bus and offers drivers turn by turn directions. The company’s technologies provide awareness,


transparency and communication of a student’s move- ments on the bus and the awareness, transmission and transparency of the vehicle health, “ensuring these buses are hitting the roads in the best possible form from a mechanical stability standpoint,” noted Dell, adding that Zonar has technology integrations with some of its main competitors. “My team looks at partnerships from things as simple as API integrations so bidirectional sharing of data happens seamlessly in the background. We also have more advanced partnerships that are very public.” He relayed that some of Zonar’s biggest and most im-


portant partnerships are with companies like BusPatrol and Transfinder. “We work together to build a suite of solutions so stu-


dents, parents, teachers and the schools get the best in class of everything they need,” he said. Chesapeake was in the process of getting a parent app, School Bus Hub from Seon—its route provider—up and running on its buses, but its deployment was sidelined by the pandemic. “We were trying to work out some glitches and before


we could turn the app on, we went into the pandemic and closed down,” Benson shared. “All this past school year, our routes did not run as scheduled because of the number of students who were virtual. The app would have given us bad data had we put it in place.” Additionally, the Seon app does not communicate


with Zonar, Benson pointed out. “I’m sure we’ll run into issues with that,” he added.


“Zonar has its own app, but it was more expensive than the Seon app, so we were being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.” Thien acknowledged district concerns about affordability.


38 School Transportation News • SEPTEMBER 2021


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