Knox Schools go high-tech to track school buses

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) The Knox County School system is implementing new software to track exactly where school buses are driving during the day.

The software uses the same technology as a cell phone for GPS tracking, so it can locate a school bus to within only a few feet of where it is.

Transportation Director Rick Grubb said the software is meant to be a resource for parents to help improve the safety of their kids, as well as a means to save some money for the district.

"They can watch their child's bus in real time," Grubb said. "They can see if the bus has made the stop in the morning, that it arrived at school, and when it arrived at school; when it left school, and when it arrived to stop in the afternoon."

Dr. Grubb said this is a new system that no other school district in East Tennessee uses, and said it's likely that Knox County is the first in the state to have it. Because of that, he said there may be some kinks to work out as parents start to use it, but adds that's to be expected.

"We don't know how it's going to work when we put it out to over 40,000 eligible bus riders. We don't know what happens if 2,000 people log on it at once. We don't know," he said.

With this past winter's snow storm, parent Dawn Williams had an issue with her kids' bus driver. She said he had dropped her sons off where he wasn't supposed to, and she didn't know where they were. She's hoping this new software will keep that from happening again.

"That way there's no question as to where my children are, and no question as to why the bus driver would drop them off somewhere where they weren't supposed to be dropped off at," Williams said.

Grubb said the software is not an app that can be downloaded, it's only accessible by logging in through the school system's website. It also assumes that kids will get on the correct bus and get off at the correct drop off.

It's also a way the schools are tracking to see exactly how long a route takes, so if time can be saved on a route, the district can save some money.

"What used to take 10 buses, may take nine buses. And that's a $40,000 savings. So that's how it pays for itself," Grubb said.

The schools already pay the software designer a monthly fee for software, this tracking system is just an added feature that has been recently designed. Grubb said because of that, this tracking won't cost any extra money than what's already being spent. He also said this tracking system does not track the individual child, just the bus he or she is supposed to be on. It also has several levels of security built in so only parents can track the bus their child is on.

To get more information about the tracking software, click the link with this story titled 'Knox County School Bus'.

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