Understanding the many kinds of student tracking hardware.
Many schools use student tracking software to know exactly when and where their students get on and off the bus. It’s a great tool that gives parents and schools peace of mind. To make the right decision as to which kind of tracking hardware is best to pair with your software, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider when choosing and implementing your student tracking system.
Choosing Your Hardware
One of the first steps is to choose a hardware option that includes a way to scan the student’s entrance to and exit from the vehicle. Ultimately, no matter which route a school goes, the district will benefit tremendously from having a student tracking system in place, as it will allow you to track students on buses, maintain accurate rider manifests, and use reports for reimbursement or audits. There’s no one right answer – find the option that best suits your school’s needs. To help you do so, let’s dig into each a little further.
Bar Code Readers and Cards
This is a highly recommended and frequently used option. The hardware is capable of scanning both one-dimensional bar codes (the ones with thick and thin vertical lines) and two dimensional codes (QR codes – square shaped codes with boxes on the corners and variable patterned pixels within).
If your district decides to go with this option, there will be a few steps you need to take. First of all, your supplier should provide the readers themselves. The schools will then need to obtain and distribute the cards with bar codes printed on them. Many times, the schools already have these in the forms of student IDs.
Secura Key RFID Readers and Cards
Secura Key RFID readers are high frequency readers and will register RFID tags that are passed in front of them within a range of three to six inches. For this type of equipment, your vendor should provide the district with both the readers and the blank RFID cards for the students. Most schools then like to take it one step further and turn the RFID tag-embedded cards into a school ID by placing a picture of the student and ID information (such as a student ID number) on them. The cards will also need to be linked to a software platform to accurately track the students. Your vendor should have multiple ways (one by one or a bulk import) to complete this task to get up and running.
Mobile Data Terminal
This option is used primarily for special needs buses. With this hardware, rather than requiring students to hang onto a chip or card, the driver or bus aide checks each student off on the mobile data terminal (MDT) manifest at each stop. The hardware is provided by your vendor, and the only thing schools need to do with this option is load a correct and updated manifest into the system and ensure that the assigned employee selects the students’ names on the list on the MDT at the correct stops as they enter or exit the bus. This option can be more reliable in certain scenarios, as it takes responsibility off the shoulders of children and passes it on to responsible adults.
Mobile Data Terminal plus RFID or Bar Code
This option is part of Synovia’s Student Ridership Verification solution. When this feature is enabled, the MDT will alert the driver if the student who is currently scanning their ID is at the wrong stop or boarding the wrong bus.
In this scenario, the district will need to choose whether they would prefer an RFID or a bar code set up. And depending on their selection, they’ll need to complete additional steps such as sourcing the cards and distributing to students. It’s also imperative that they train their drivers to pay attention and react to any of the alerts that may pop up on the mobile data terminal.
Once you’ve made your choice, getting started is rather simple. The equipment can be ordered, installed, and implemented usually within 90 days. And once it’s set up, schools will immediately begin to reap the benefits.
Tracking software can also be partnered with a parent and student website and app, such as Synovia’s Here Comes the Bus®. Parents can view their child’s scan data, including the bus number and time and location of the scan on the map. This way they can see for themselves that their child has safely boarded the bus in the morning, as well as when and where they exited the bus in the afternoon. Push notifications and email alerts can also be set up to provide parents with the same information.
You can learn more about all of our GPS tracking solutions, including student tracking by downloading your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends.