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How District Implemented School Bus Enhanced Push-to-Talk

An STN webinar sponsored by AT&T provided attendees with in-depth information on how and why to implement enhanced mobile communications for school bus drivers, dispatch and administrators, illustrated by a case study from an Atlanta-area district.

Rick Grisham, executive director of transportation for Cobb County School District in Marrietta, Georgia, described a digital communications system implemented in just three weeks, prior to the start of the 2013 school year. The system proved crucial in January 2014 in ensuring communications and safety during severe snowstorms referred to as “Snowmaggedon” that blanketed much of Georgia and the Southeast.

“What saved my job was (Enhanced Push-to-Talk),” Grisham explained. “Every school site was paralyzed, the school’s phone system was down and our dispatch controlled all of that chaos.”

But the initial reason Cobb County turned to AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk system, which Grisham said looks like a cell phone but is not one and does not feature dial-out functionality, was to improve privacy and reduce driver distraction, as well as additional “chaos” in the dispatch center that Grisham said resulted from nearly constant bus driver chatter on the old two-way radio system. Adding to the challenge was two teenagers were able to hack into the system and broadcast vulgar material throughout the district and community.

“You want to have control over that situation,” Grisham said during the webinar. He was joined by Joel A. Garner, Jr., an industry solutions practice manager with specific focus areas in field force automation, enhanced Push to Talk (ePTT) and the AT&T Remote Mobility Zone (ARMZ).

Garner interviewed Grisham to share details on how a GPS component utilizing ActSoft by AT&T allows for the usage of tablets by staff on the buses, tracks idling and promotes a paperless payroll system, as well as providing vehicle tracking. 

The webinar, “Upgrading Mobile Technology to Enhance Transportation Safety”, is archived for 24/7 viewing and sharing with staff. In addition to watching the video, download the presentation, as well as a case study on Cobb County School District, an overview of AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk with Integrated Dispatch and specifications for the Sonim XP5 ultra-rugged, Push-to-Talk phone with Wi-Fi capabilities that Cobb County uses.

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