Everyday Practices for a Safe School Bus Environment: We do everything to ensure the safety of our kids. From holding hands while crossing the road to ensuring that have their helmet and safety gear on while riding their scooter in the park- we ensure that they don’t get into any life-threatening situation. However, the only time when we don’t have control over their safety is when they board their school bus. Those 45 minutes to an hour-long journey to school is the only time when the parents are in complete dark about the safety of the kids. The situation gets worse when clueless parents desperately wait at the bus stops to receive their children and the bus is unprecedently delayed due to rain, traffic, or vehicle malfunction. It’s only when they see the yellow bus entering the alley that they take a sigh of relief.
But in this age of advanced technology, is it necessary for parents to spend tense hours awaiting the safe arrival of their kids? To keep their operating costs low, schools and bus vendors choose cheaper GPS hardware options flooded by Chinese companies and working on 2g technology. However, the efficacy of these incumbent solutions is questionable especially due to network lags and hardware related troubles.
Schools ensure the safety of the students with within the school premises by using the latest technology. However, why can’t the same be made mandatory for the buses, despite regulators and boards such as CBSE mandating the same?
Today, in most schools across India, parents are silently suffering unnecessary harassment because of the lack of a robust bus-tracking app. It is time for the school management to take cognizance of the matter and incorporate an agile bus-tracking app that gives seamless information to parents.
To make these apps practical and glitch-free, it should have three main features in a school bus:
- Real-Time Monitoring
Although most school buses provide basic GPS technology, there is a desperate need to eliminate the lag in tracking. Updates are sent every 15-30 seconds, which does not provide real time tracking. With the availability of 4G network and now 5G network in most places, the apps need to be enabled in a way that parents have the facility of real-time monitoring of the buses from pick up to drop off.
- Real-Time Communication
In situations of delay, anxious parents want to know the reason. But while it is difficult to get in touch with the driver and staff on the bus, school authorities are also clueless at times. The best way is to enable two-way communication via the same app, so that irrespective of the staff deployed on the bus, the parents will be able to get in touch with the personnel directly in situations of any irregularities or delays in picking up and dropping off the students. This will also create better three-way communication between the school administration, the bus drivers/staff, and the parents.
- Real-Time Child Attendance
There are situations where the child boards the wrong bus. This is especially possible with kindergarten or primary kids. Thus, with the attendance of each child, (either manual attendance integrated in the app or via swipe of ID card using QR code scanner on the attendant app) the parent and the school can ascertain that the child has boarded the right bus. Technology advancements are also making facial recognition of children a possibility in the near future.
The school bus route data can be smartly used using AI tools for route planning and optimisation for better efficiency and fuel-saving. All this will ultimately ensure the safety and security of every child.
So, let’s make the bus ride to school a tension-free journey for parents and students.
By Jaya Bhura, Co-founder & Director, Chakraview