Joel Stutheit, transportation director at Bethel School District in Spanaway, Wash., and David Benson, director of transportation at Chesapeake (Va.) Public Schools, both have surveillance technology from AngelTrax in their fleets.
All of the buses at Stutheit’s operation are outfitted with AngelTrax’s HDX mobile DVR and three cameras. The camera that’s positioned over the front door of the bus helped to disprove an allegation made by a student that his driver struck him.
“You can hear the conversation and you can clearly see that the incident did not take place,” Stutheit says. Another advantage of video surveillance, he says, is that it shortens incident investigation time.
Benson says the majority of his fleet’s buses are equipped with AngelTrax’s HC460 four-channel DVR system and three cameras.
“It’s minimized calls from parents because they know that they can no longer make the claim that, for example, the bus didn’t come by their house to pick up their child,” Benson says.
All of Chesapeake Public Schools’ buses are also equipped with motion sensors, which have helped the district in getting convictions on a number of vandalisms.
AngelTrax Marketing Director JoBeth Fink adds that the company will soon release the latest edition of its surveillance playback software, FlexPlay Pro 7. With this software, operations will have the ability to perform various functions, such as using “mask and blur” features to protect students’ identities when necessary.
247Security is currently offering Touchdown, an integrated video/GPS wireless management solution that enables the user to see historical or live route and video data, and transportation managers can access video and other critical data from their office or phone/PDA, bringing them automated alerts or specific requests, according to Rob Scott, vice president of sales and marketing.
Scott says that the ability to securely transfer and view video is essential in choosing a surveillance solution. “You want to make sure that the video is viewed through viewing software that is secured for use only by authorized personnel so that if the video ends up before authorities, you can prove that it hasn’t been tampered with,” he says, adding that your wireless network should also have strict levels of security.
Orange (Calif.) Unified School District’s buses are equipped with multiple surveillance cameras from 247Security for comprehensive coverage.
Recently, one of the district’s buses was struck by a car. “You can see where the car hit the back of the bus, and you can hear the driver of the car apologize profusely,” Director of Transportation Pam McDonald says. “The audio is a definite benefit.”
Transportation Supervisor Ellen Johnson adds that the cameras are helpful in documenting accidents and determining who was at fault because sometimes the bus driver can get shaken up and may have trouble remembering what occurred.
Apollo Video Technology
Apollo Video Technology offers the RoadRunner DVR system, which can record up to 120 images per second. The optional GPS feature enables users to search based on location or speed with mapping location information and speed charts that provide graphical route and historical speed information.
Company officials say the iSM (Interactive Speed and Mapping) interface provides the ability to easily investigate speed complaints, and it provides street names and geographical data for route and bus stop information.
Apollo’s MRH4 Series system records footage with up to four cameras, plus audio. The MRH2 Series system records footage with up to two cameras, plus audio.
Fortress Mobile Systems
Stanly County Schools in Albemarle, N.C., began looking for a video surveillance system for its bus fleet about a year ago, and the district uses Fortress Mobile Systems’ FM Hybrid system.
Director of Transportation Art Whittaker says the cameras in the system enhance interior coverage of the bus and give the operation the ability to capture vehicles that illegally pass school buses.
“The use of video surveillance on board our buses accomplishes two things: a true record of what actually did happen on the bus; plus, it acts as a deterrent with students,” Whittaker says. “Recently, a parent came to a school and wanted to file a complaint to the principal about the bus driver. The school administration conducted a review with all the parties on the bus. The video told a different story of what actually did happen, and the bus driver was cleared of any wrongdoing. I have personally heard many students say, ‘This bus has cameras and we must be on our best behavior.’”
The FM Hybrid system is an eight channel DVR that records video from up to four analog cameras and four IP cameras. Stanly County Schools equipped its vehicles with three external IP cameras and four internal cameras. The IP cameras record video at 1280x720 resolution.
REI’s newest video surveillance solutions are the HD420W and HD800W DVR systems. Users can connect up to eight high-resolution, day/night cameras for comprehensive coverage in and around the bus, and REI offers several camera styles with multiple lens sizes to obtain the coverage users require. Each camera includes a built-in microphone to record audio.
The DVRs include integrated Wi-Fi, which, when utilized with REI’s A.R.M.O.R. software suite, eliminates the need to go to buses and manually remove hard drives from the DVRs. Users can access a system dashboard on their computer that contains saved data from the entire fleet that has been wirelessly downloaded from the DVR, such as GPS location, bus speed and red/amber warning light information. Users can then select the bus from the onscreen interface, the date and time of desired video, and the requested file or files are put in a queue to be downloaded for viewing.
Company officials say that there are many benefits to equipping school buses with video surveillance systems, as they can help to deter problematic student behavior and promote safety, while also providing audio and video evidence when necessary to eliminate “he said/she said” situations.
Rosco Vision Systems
The staff at Dell Transportation Corp. in Port Washington, N.Y., uses Rosco Vision Systems’ Dual-Vision Continuous Video and Automotive Event Recorder (AER) primarily for insurance purposes in accident investigations, according to Secretary/Treasurer Robert Pape.
“We have seen a marked improvement in the number of accidents over prior years,” he says. “[The recorders] have been an asset for our insurance carrier in adjudicating cases and recovering subrogation money.”
Pape says the AER can also provide increased security for a transportation operation.
“Our neighboring business was burglarized, and the cameras on the buses in our lot picked up the suspect and provided the police with a crystal clear photo of the perpetrator and helped lead to his arrest,” he explains. “Buses can be strategically placed on one’s property to provide security if so desired.”
Rosco’s Dual-Vision AER is a windshield-based, two-camera recorder with a third camera option that can be placed anywhere inside or outside the bus. The data are recorded to an SD card that can store up to 160 hours of footage, according to Rosco’s Amy Ahn. The continuous recording is time and date stamped, and linked via GPS coordinates to Google Maps for exact pinpointing of video/audio data and location.
Safety Vision’s Observer 4108 DVR records GPS, metadata, and analog and high-definition IP video with infrared technology for clear capture of footage in day/night conditions for up to eight video-audio channels.
It also offers redundant recording with an optional 32GB or 64GB solid state drive to help ensure that footage/data will not go missing, according to Marketing Manager Melissa Foteh. An “event” button allows the user to easily tag recorded events to avoid sifting through hours of footage.
Humble (Texas) Independent School District utilizes the Observer 4108 system. Director of Transportation Marisa Weisinger says they have the fourth camera option that’s available, which allows staff to see students disembarking the bus and crossing the street, and it provides better views of accidents and traffic-related situations.
“We also like the addition of solid state recording,” Weisinger says. “We just had too many missed recordings with hard drives.”
She notes that the Safety Vision video camera systems have been a great asset in protecting the operation.
“We had a situation where a woman standing on the sidewalk claimed a bus hit her as it moved away from the curb,” Weisinger explains as one example. “We were able to prove this was not true.”
Seon offers several video surveillance solutions for the pupil transportation market. Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84 in Sandpoint, Idaho, has Seon’s CJ Dome and CQ IR Dome cameras on its buses with the Trooper TL2 and TL4 DVRs.
Director of Transportation Jacob Iverson says the quality and resolution of the videos and the user-friendliness of the DVR systems prompted him to select Seon as the operation’s video surveillance provider.
One incident where Iverson says having the video cameras on his buses was especially helpful is when there was a report of alleged physical misconduct against a special-needs student who was unable to communicate verbally.
“The clarity of the video and the audio was spectacular,” he explains. “It really helped to protect the reputation of a 25-year driver.”
Carlos Chicas, transportation director at Stockton (Calif.) Unified School District, also has the Trooper TL4 DVR on his operation’s buses, and he uses the vMax Commander viewing software. He says the ability to wirelessly access the DVRs from his computer is one reason he chose the Seon system.
“The footage confirms reality, and we can access it while we’re on the phone with a parent and either confirm or deny the incident in question,” he says.