The world of K-12 transportation has become far more complex in recent decades. A student’s transportation schedule, pickup, and drop-off locations are far less predictable today than they were 20 years ago.
For example, the 2010 census shows a 20% decrease in two-parent homes from 1995 to 2010. The notion of family has grown to include multi-home living, co-parenting, after-school care, special-needs programs, and much more.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the parental impulse to know where their kids are. And technology has evolved to accommodate their needs.
GPS student tracking — what parents are already doing
The technology to track students has been around for about 10 years and is probably sitting on your desk right now: your smartphone.
Nowadays, many parents give their children cell phones or smartphones. Using built-in apps that take advantage of GPS location services, parents can “check in” on their kids whenever they wish.
In terms of student tracking, these are merely “workaround” solutions. They lack the ability to know if a student is on the right bus at the right time and is getting off at the right stop. As well, parents can’t travel back in time to witness a previous day’s events. If an incident has occurred in the past, parents have no access to a recorded version of their child’s bus trip.
Integration with K-12 transportation software
As this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration infographic shows, school buses are the safest way for children to get to and from school — safer even than being driven in the family vehicle. But for parents, knowing for sure that their kids are on the right bus is just as important. This also applies to staff, teachers, administration — in fact, anyone charged with the responsibility of being able to answer a parent’s inquiry when it comes to their children.
By simply scanning a unique RFID card, each student can be monitored getting on the bus at their stop. And because the GPS student tracking information is integrated with K-12 transportation software, all the events are recorded. This means that every traveled route, speed of the bus, precise location of the bus at any time, and planned stop can be played back to see a true depiction of the actual events.
Not just students, but schedules
The benefit of having GPS data integration with K-12 transportation software is that you are also tracking the buses as well. This means that you can take student safety to the next level.
How important is knowing for sure that your planned schedules are being carried out? Are the safety measures you’ve built into each unique student’s schedule being followed? GPS bus tracking with integrated scheduling software will be able to tell you.
While this type of technology may be commonplace in 20 years, it’s considered cutting-edge today. School districts (for example, Volusia County Schools) are steadily taking the leap into future-proofing their operations.
But it’s not just about technology planning. As student schedules, living arrangements, and after-school activities increase in complexity, technology will be necessary to keep everything running safely.
Waylen Miki is a prolific writer within the community transportation software industry. As a content specialist with TripSpark Technologies, he has specific expertise in the area of K-12 transportation software solutions.