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July 01, 2007  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Spotlight on Technology

School buses and ancillary components are generating more information than ever before, creating a need for operators to be able to efficiently collect and access the data. Technological advances are making it easier to gather and distribute this information, as illustrated by the two companies featured in this article.


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Seon’s Smart-Reach wireless bridge makes swapping surveillance videotapes and hard drives obsolete.

Seon’s Smart-Reach wireless bridge makes swapping surveillance videotapes and hard drives obsolete.

Wireless access to surveillance footage

Seon Design Inc.
This past spring, Seon debuted its Smart-Reach wireless bridge for the pupil transportation market, making finding, downloading and archiving surveillance footage easier. Through the Seon Smart-Reach wireless interface, the onboard Explorer Digital Video Recorder can connect to a computer to access all surveillance footage. No more videotape libraries. No more swapping hard drives.

“Like most industries, school transportation officials experience immense time pressures,” says Terry Akiyama, vice president of sales for Seon Design Inc. “With Smart-Reach onboard, there is no need to swap hard drives or videotapes. You will know from your desk if your system is working. It will improve the efficiency of any transportation fleet.”

“It is Seon’s mission to make user-friendly mobile surveillance systems. This is a system that can be customized for any fleet or bus yard,” says Ian Radziejewski, president. “It has the flexibility to service a fleet of one or 100 or more buses.”

Building on the advances of digital recording, Smart-Reach will help improve overall efficiency of the maintenance routine. Not only is time saved by allowing remote access, the ease of use promotes daily monitoring of surveillance footage — making a Seon Digital System an even stronger ally in the fight against major and minor incidents.

While Smart-Reach aims to make its footage easier for school transportation officials to access, it protects footage so only those who are authorized can view recordings. Smart-Reach utilizes encryption that ensures all communication from the bus’ DVR can only be accessed by authorized users and not by wireless voyeurs.

The Seon Smart-Reach consists of two small wireless interface boxes that plug into the onboard Explorer DVR and an office access point, as well as a roof-top bus antenna. The wireless interface connects directly to the DVR, with or without Seon’s Smart-Link wire consolidator.

Whenever the bus returns to the bus yard or is within a specified area, the DVR is accessible. It can also be programmed to automatically download if an alarm is triggered during the day’s route. This special feature enables transportation managers to know about all irregular circumstances before they are reported and to know about some that may never be reported at all.

 

High-tech data capture and analysis

Zonar Systems
Zonar Systems has a strong track record of helping school bus fleets capture and analyze information about the condition of their vehicles. Its flagship product is the Electronic Vehicle Inspection Reports (EVIR) system, an RFID-based handheld tool that creates a permanent electronic record of the inspection report, complete with an automated stamp of the date, time and VIN.

The EVIR sends the inspection data from the driver to a web server, giving technicians in the shop instant access to data they need to generate work orders, diagnose problems and make sure vehicles are ready to roll.

At one time, the prospect of increased productivity and compliance would be enough to satisfy school districts and companies involved in pupil transportation, says Mike McQuade, Zonar’s director of research and development.

“Today, the data generated by a walk-around inspection has tremendous value beyond the confines of the depot yard or service bay,” McQuade says. “Chances are, your office is part of a network that encompasses every aspect of the overall operation. Think about how many other managers at your organization would benefit from your ability to measure performance and manage your transportation fleet.”

Locking up data in proprietary systems is no better than filing away paper forms that will never again see the light of day, he says.

“Early on, we decided to make our system open so organizations can access information and put it to use in whatever way makes sense for them,” McQuade says. “We use XML, a very common coding language, so everything in the system is accessible via a third-party application.”

Zonar’s EVIRNET GPS-based automated vehicle location and reporting functions gathers real-time information on asset utilization, in/out-of-yard tracking, fuel consumption, mileage reporting and more.

Zonar’s open system architecture allows the user to import location, time and vehicle speed information into dispatch and route-planning software. This produces a number of benefits:

• Performance tracking: Gather real-time information on asset utilization, in/out-of-yard tracking, repair status, fuel consumption, mileage reporting and more. Zonar’s Web-based applications help to quickly identify inefficiencies and find improvements.

• Route management: Manage by exception with real-time, on-demand or end-of-day processing of route data.

• Security management: Real-time text messaging and e-mail alerts aid compliance with vehicle and passenger-check inspection requirements.


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