The recent tragic death of a six-year old boy in a bus in Dubai sent a wave of shock across the UAE and India.
Parents and teachers felt their hearts sink as they realized how a seemingly small negligence could result in a heart wrenching loss -the life of an innocent child, who fell asleep in a school bus.
Amidst all the grief and the ensuing investigations, one cannot help but think- In this age of smart sensors and remote tracking, couldn’t technology have helped avoid this accident altogether?
And if the answer is Yes, why are some schools and educational institutes still hesitating to implement the requisite technology for their transport vehicles?
If you are a parent or a teacher, or even a concerned citizen, you need to know , how connected telematics and related technologies can help prevent all sorts of mishaps with the school children:
Installing 360°cameras with live streaming and recording features can help to monitor and record what’s happening inside and outside the bus. A surveillance team can immediately alert the authorities if they see anything amiss.
A rear-view camera also comes handy to track vehicles that try to overtake the school bus when its stop sign is on.
A simple electronic alarm system automatically activates at the end of a route, signaling to the driver that he must manually check the bus and ensure that no kid is left behind.
These sensors can detect the presence of any person or object in the ‘blind spots’- immediately in front and back of the vehicle, where the driver is unable to see. This alone could have helped to avoid a host of accidental deaths of little children.
These sensors can detect changes in temperature and can send out alerts when the temperature inside a bus rises above the tolerable levels.
5.Real Time School Bus Tracking:
GPS devices installed on the buses can help to track the location of the buses in real time. Parents, school authorities and transport managers can easily track the bus movements via customized smart phone apps.
This puts parents at ease since they easily come to know where the bus has reached and no longer need to make frantic calls to school authorities in case of a delay.
6.Real Time Child Tracking:
A unique radio frequency identity card (RFID) would be issued to every child, which would be scanned every time the child entered or left a school bus.
If a student boarded the wrong bus by mistake, or got down at a different bus stop, the parents and school authorities would instantly come to know.
7.Live Updates to Parents: GPS technology can also update the expected time of arrival (ETA) of the bus, so that parents/ school children don’t crowd around the bus stops, causing another road hazard. They can simply reach the bus stop on the given time, rather than wait for it to arrive.
8.On-Road Safety: The efficient allocation of buses ensures that there is no overloading in buses. Routes are scanned and adjusted to ensure that the drivers only drive on the safest routes and avoid areas that are hazardous for children.
9.Pre-planned routes: Alerts are sent out to parents and school authorities when the buses deviate from an assigned route. This ensures that drivers stick to their pre-planned routes, and in case a driver deviates, immediate action can be taken.
10.Driver Checks: Schools can even keep tabs on the drivers for every trip., to make sure that their children are in safe hands. At any point, they would be able to access driver and vehicle identification details, and any anomalies during the trip such as number of unscheduled stops, speeding incidents etc.
11.Monitoring Driver Behavior: On-board sensors in the vehicles would help to monitor and analyze driver behavior across the various aspects to ensure that they drive responsibly and within speed limits, with no aggressive turning, breaking or honking.
Drivers would need to show the stop sign at bus stops, & check and confirm on boarded, off boarded and not boarded status. Defaulting drivers would be easily identified.
12.Two-Factor Authentication for Parent: Both the transport manager and the parent could coordinate the child’s whereabouts via a smart phone app, wherein the parent would confirm that the student has left for school, the transport manager would confirm, the student boarded the bus and reached the school, and similarly, for the return journey. The trip would only be reported complete once the parent confirmed that the child has returned home.
This is the most advanced level of safety for a child that ensures no mishaps can occur – giving complete assurance and peace of mind to the parents.
13.Vehicle Maintenance and Compliance: The maintenance / service schedules for every vehicle could be easily accessed to check if the vehicles were being serviced in a timely manner.
Drivers would have to carry out the mandated pre-trip inspections to ensure that the buses with any mechanical or electrical faults were kept off the roads.
A School Bus Tracking System would integrate all of the above capabilities and effectively streamline the entire school transport system – for parents, children, schools as well as transport operators.
Clearly, high levels of safety are now possible for the school children, and are very much the need of the hour for all schools and educational institutes.
Let us not wait for another tragic incident before we take purposive action on this.