At STN EXPO Virtual, REI representatives dove into the topic of how technology advancements and electronics have taken on a larger role in school transportation.
Cheyenne Bybee, an REI inside sales representative, said during the Jan. 25 presentation that video cameras cut down on both onboard and external safety and discipline issues. She noted that conversation is necessary with parents and school administrators, as some may see it as a privacy invasion.
High-resolution cameras also have the advantage of capturing issues like inappropriate texting by students on their cellphones or illegal passing incidents that occur in low-light conditions.
She explained that comprehensive video coverage is possible with fewer cameras because of modern advancements such as 360-degree viewing and infrared technology.
“The infrared cameras look really great for seeing the license plates in the dark,” confirmed attendee Stephen Janes, the transportation supervisor for Park County School District #1 in Wyoming, in the session chat.
Bybee advised listeners to check what their state allows in terms of stop-arm cameras. REI offers features such as automatic license plate detection and also allows school bus drivers to manually mark incidents for later review.
“We have had a substantial increase in convictions using the stop arm camera and front facing cameras we have,” related Laurie Farmer, the dispatch coordinator for Dexter Community Schools in Michigan, in the chat.
Bybee added that today’s DVRs are also built to assist transportation operations by making possible the storage and accessibility of large quantities of video footage. Jeff Wagner, an REI inside sales representative, added that REI allows automatic downloading of video footage, via Wi-Fi or cellular network, when the bus arrives at school.
Engaging cloud services to help with fleet management also saves time and IT resources, as well as offering transportation staff a way to quickly access important data from any location, he added.
Even more advancements include radar and lidar that capture information from the bus’s surroundings. Artificial intelligence then quickly makes calculations on what the safest choice is each circumstance. REI Sales Manager Drew Batten explained that this has applications in student safety at bus stops, driver behavior and training, and more.
Mobile Data Terminals keep important student tracking and navigational information at school bus drivers’ fingertips.
Routing and Tech Lead Jason Chess shared in the chat that Reynolds SD 7 in Oregon uses REI cameras and is very happy with the products offered.
“REI has been a good system for us,” related Geoff Atchley, transportation director for Tennessee’s Lebanon Special School District, in the chat. “We have clear videos and great service.”
An REI Product Showcase, ”New Gear For The New Year,” that aired the following day highlighted the importance of collecting and using data strategically.
“The more you know about your bus routes and your students, the better,” noted REI Territory Manger Will Simmonds.
REI’s Asset Reporting and Management/Observation and Recording (ARMOR) fleet management system puts critical data & reports at the fingertips of transportation staff.
Territory Manger Chad Anderson explained that it is easy to sort video incidents, whether they are stop-arm violations or speeding incidents. REI’s stop arm cameras automatically capture these, making it easy to send the info to law enforcement.
ARMOR’s Vehicle Diagnostics module keeps fleet managers in the know about their fleet’s efficiencies, Anderson said.
Live views of interior bus video allow staff to verify student ridership, decrease bullying and trace students.
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Anderson next reviewed the company’s new offerings. The ARMOR Students feature allows transportation staff to quickly access real-time ridership data and live camera views, in order to better answer parent inquiries. The REI Bus Tracker app allows parents and students to better plan their days and also provides peace of mind. REI Mobile Data Terminals put essential student information at school bus drivers’ fingertips and enables paperless inspection processes.
“Knowledge is key – give your districts greater peace of mind.” Anderson summarized.
Visit stnexpovirtual.com to watch the replay of these presentations.