Quantum XXI Inc. has developed GOLDbus, a computer tablet technology for school buses and other fleets that is vastly improved over the old GPS/AVL firmware approach. The supplier worked directly with school districts to determine features that enhance student safety and driver accountability and bring savings to districts.
The tablet solution for school buses is unique in the flexibility it offers. Applications are all-inclusive in the initial software package pricing. All features are built into the software; school districts can implement them with no “add-on” cost.
Because GOLDbus is software-based, it can be used on any tablet or computer with a Microsoft-based platform. Quantum XXI recommends the sturdy Fujitsu tablet for school buses.
The Loudoun County (Va.) Public Schools transportation department tested several tablets with the GOLDbus software and found that it worked flawlessly on all of them, but that the Fujitsu tablet, built to military standards, proved to be the sturdiest for withstanding temperature changes, bumpy roads, dust, etc.
GOLDbus includes all the basic GPS/AVL features and many others that integrate seamlessly within the system, as well as with other software used in school districts, such as routing, fleet management, payroll, human resources and student information.
GPS/AVL is built into the hardware (tablet) and includes features such as real-time and historical data, including bus locations, speed, and departure and arrival times; length of time spent at locations; comparative analysis of actual versus planned times; and standard and customized reports of events.
The following features are included in the software and require no additional hardware or software.
- Report Wizard: Creates customized reports.
- Time and attendance: Connects with payroll systems, allowing for paperless timesheets; for drivers/attendants to view hours; and for managers to view employee hours.
- Two-way communication: Data can be transmitted to and from the buses directly without other buses receiving or hearing the exchange.
- Real-time downloading of routes: Route changes can be sent directly to the tablet in real time, even during a route.
- Audio and visual directions: Includes district directions used for routing. Any last-minute changes can be sent with routes and up-to-date audio/visual directions.
- Real-time video streaming: Can be utilized with the built-in camera. The tablet can also connect to other inside and outside cameras.
- Customizable pre- and post-trip inspection checklists.
- Student boarding/deboarding: Includes ridership identification. Photo or icon boarding (touch picture) fits the needs for accountability of ridership for special-needs students.
- Medicaid reimbursement reporting: Included in the standard reports and can be customized and sent electronically to administration for inclusion in district reporting.
- Engine diagnostics.
- Parent portal: Connection can be made through the transportation department or accessed through the district’s parent portal. Levels of access can be determined by the school district with parental password protection.
Initially, the tablet may be more expensive to purchase than simple GPS tracking hardware. However, the many advantages, including the ruggedness of the tablet, the software-based system that accommodates other tablets and upgrades, and the fact that all software components that most companies sell separately are included in the price without needing to install additional hardware, firmware or software, make it a practical choice for a long-term investment.
For more information about Quantum XXI, visit www.quantumxxi.com.
Rebecca Peters of Education Consulting LLC is a retired superintendent of schools from Virginia. She served as superintendent of schools in the city of Alexandria [Va.] and as superintendent of schools in Mecklenburg County, Va. She has also served in many other administrative positions in education, including director of technology and director of career and technical education in Fauquier County, Va.