Connected School Bus Technology Optimizes Safety and Operations

K-12 school districts need to ensure that school buses operate optimally, holding down costs while keeping students safe and secure. Buses and other school vehicles equipped with wi-fi, smart video, alerts, and GPS tracking help districts achieve safety objectives–and allow students to learn while enroute to school or home.

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Image credit: Cisco

With school back in session in the US, the familiar yellow buses are again appearing on local roads across the country. According to National School Transportation Association (NSTA) statistics, every day, 480,000 yellow school buses transport students to and from school, and school-aged children collectively take more than 50 million trips a day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that students are 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely if they ride a school bus than if they ride in a private car.


Students spend a significant amount of time every day shuttling between school and home. Data from a working paper by the Institute for School Reform at Brown University identified the average bus ride as about 21 minutes long – or 42 minutes per day – and the majority of students spending less than an hour each day on the bus. About six percent of students have long rides of up to an hour each way, so these students are on the bus for up to 10 hours a week, or hundreds of hours each year.    

The logistics of organizing and managing school transportation are considerable. School transportation coordinators have historically had to schedule and arrange bus routes, hire and supervise drivers, and manage the fleet. More recently, districts have had to also provide ample on-board security provisions that may include video surveillance of bus interiors and tracking capabilities to monitor the location of all buses.

Bus data dashboard for Cisco connected school bus

Image credit: Cisco

Managing Fleet and Children’s Safety

Smart connected technology is now making fleet operations, safety, and logistics much easier for school districts to manage. An Intel® IoT partner solution, Cisco’s Connected Transportation for Education technology allows transportation managers to optimize vehicle performance and minimize costs. The solution includes smart video to improve passenger safety while monitoring students and driver behavior in real time, enabling faster incident response. 

The solution includes an alert system and GPS capabilities, which allow operators to track vehicle location in real-time and send alerts to school or emergency personnel if a vehicle strays outside its established route. Vehicle telematics help keep track of the condition of buses and send alerts if vehicles are due for maintenance.

Cisco connected school bus graphic

Image credit: Cisco

Smart Connected Bus

Cisco’s solution also includes wi-fi networking on board the vehicles. This capability allows students to access the school network and online courses, so they can continue learning or work on assignments during their trips to and from school. In addition, the in-vehicle wi-fi enables students who may not have Internet access at home the opportunity to go online before they reach their residence.

Solution components include the Cisco 829 Industrial Integrated Services Router with support for integrated 4F LTE wireless WAN and wireless LAN capabilities intended for school vehicles. 

Also included is Cisco Instant Connect, an IP-based communications and dispatch platform for fleet-to-headquarters information exchange. The solution also uses Cisco Video Surveillance Manager and high-definition cameras. This IP-based component uses the network to send and receive live and recorded video surveillance.

Cisco’s Connected Transportation for Education solution also uses Ignition Sense Technology to maintain network device power while ensuring the vehicle battery stays charged.

The solution runs on Davra Network RuBAN software. This allows school districts to monitor, track and manage fleet-based assets while managing the large data set generated by the fleet. 


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