Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fear-Driven Piece Of Mind

A school district in Palos Heights, IL, a suburb of Chicago, can now track kids when they get on and off the bus. The news article makes it sound like they're using GPS on each kid via a tag attached to their backpack.

In a bid to set parents' nerves at ease, a southwest suburban school district has become one of the first in the state to begin using GPS to track schoolchildren riding buses to and from school each day.

Palos Heights School District 128 had previously been using ZPass, a GPS technology provided by Seattle-based Zonar Systems, to track the buses. But now the district is outfitting students' backpacks with a luggage tag-sized unit that logs when the student steps on and off the bus.

But the minutes from a public meeting (PDF) has a better description.

Dr. Casey reported on Zonar Systems ZPass for Student Tracking on buses. Zonar ZPass operates on a bar code system. A reader is installed on the bus, and students have a coded card that logs them in upon entering or leaving the bus.

Back to the news article.

The district spent $16,000 for the technology, which currently covers 10 buses. Parents say the cost is minimal for the benefits.

"As a parent, the safety of your child taking a bus is a number one concern" says Leslie Baudo.

Last year, Baudo's son was over an hour late coming home. If that happens again, Baudo can now simply call the school and get immediate information from the secure database, making the waiting game just a little bit easier.

Essentially the school district spent $16,000 to save parents the trouble of calling and asking why the bus is late--provided their child did not forget or lose their bar-coded tag.

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