On the first day of STN EXPO Virtual, Zonar Chief Operating Officer Michael Gould delivered an opening keynote on recognizing the importance of technology in safe student transportation, especially in a post-COVID-19 world.
With an inflow of new technology hitting the market as the COVID-19 pandemic changes the face of student transportation, Gould emphasized the importance of creating technologies and programs that meet expectations. He said technology needs to “to deliver the value and what you need as the consumer.”
Technology that will continue to be available following the new coronavirus pandemic will “empower our emergence and define the ‘new normal,’” added Gould.
COVID-19 safety procedures such as frequent sanitation, contact tracing, and school bus and student tracking apps are all making “tech a part of our life,” he said.
Gould added that driver training and security camera technology is crucial to accurately document real-time operations and encourage accountability. Payroll technology can also help to guide a driver through their workday, from shift clock-in to pre-trip and post-trip inspections
Gould spoke of not only implementing preventive maintenance but predictive maintenance technology to allow school bus mechanics to work ahead of potential problems and address technical issues before buses leave for their routes.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as well as other grants, can be utilized to provide funding for technology that supports COVID-19 safety adherence guidelines, Gould added.
There are several “critical success factors” Gould addressed that will be crucial to school districts’ effective implementation of technology. These factors include an understanding of district needs and objectives: consultation with peers, and driver training.
Choosing a contractor and building a partnership that is a good fit for the district is also a key factor in ensuring the success of modern technology programs, he advised.
“There are startup and driver training issues which we’re working through as partners,” Gould added. “Plan on bumps in the road and you’ll come out with a successful program.”
Gould said that when asked what his hope for 2021 is, he responds that he hopes to see students back in school and in-person learning. “COVID-19 has tested our resilience but we’re proud at Zonar of how we’ve been able to respond with success and safety,” he concluded.
Related: Zonar’s Class-Leading Pupil Safety Solutions EVIR and Z Pass Now Qualify for ESSER Fund Subgrant Under CARES Act
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Related: New Federal COVID-19 Response Strategy Targets Safe Reopening of Schools