Synovia Solutions Blog

Why Your Public Safety Fleet Needs GPS Tracking

Posted by Bill Westerman on Wed, Feb 04, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

GPS tracking for public safety fleet

When managing a public safety fleet, you need a way to ensure your personnel are in position to respond to emergencies as quickly as possible. But as tightening budgets meet rising fuel and maintenance costs, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to serve those who need you most.

Fortunately, Synovia Solutions has everything you need to better manage your entire public safety fleet, from police squad cars and unmarked patrol units to fire trucks, EMS ambulances and beyond. Synovia Solutions GPS technology enables you to track driver behavior, so you can enforce safer driving habits while decreasing unnecessary fuel consumption.

With GPS tracking tools from Synovia Solutions, you can enhance service to the community and ensure your vehicles remain in the line of duty. How? With route verification tools that confirm whether an area is being patrolled and engine fault code alerts that enable minor repairs to be made before they become major problems.

With Synovia Solutions GPS tracking, your officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders will be able to reach those in need faster while your department will see a reduction in fuel and maintenance expenditures and marked improvement in overall cost savings, vehicle uptime, accountability and more. 

Want to find out more?

Simply download our guide, How GPS Systems Protect Police and the Communities They Serve. Inside, you’ll discover how GPS tracking can make police work safer and more cost efficient, from crime mapping and route planning to savings on fuel and maintenance expenses.

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Tags: safety, route efficiency, GPS, fuel efficiency

How Comparative Analysis Improves Vehicle Routing

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:25 AM

comparative route analysis The best way to make your school system’s buses are as safe and efficient as possible is through careful route planning. Optimal routes will save time and money, and keep your students safe. But even with considerable planning, it’s important to audit your routes and monitor them on a frequent basis.

You need insights to how your routes are performing relative to the planned routes. Are your bus drivers following the routes as designed? Did the bus get to its stop on time, and not early or late? Did it make all the stops it was supposed to, or were stops added? Did the bus arrive at the school on time? Synovia’s Comparative Analysis tool allows transportation managers to review the route planning with the actual results.

Comparative Analysis tracks key performance indicators like arrival time at school, missed stops, extra stops made, and punctuality so you know how your drivers are doing, and can determine why vehicle routing problems occur. It matches your planned routes to the actual data on both a macro and micro level. For any district, Comparative Analysis can give you a percentage of buses running on time to gauge your overall fleet. And it gives you the ability to drill down to look at specific schools, specific routes, etc. to make adjustments.

A transportation director can even monitor buses in real time. With live updates, a route’s current status is always available with an ETA on individual stops and arrival at the school. With the Yard Monitor, you know when buses enter and leave the parking lot so you know as early as possible if a bus is late or a driver is a no-show, and can take the appropriate action.

Comparative Analysis provides you with the facts to deal with issues such as a missed bus. Rather than having to take a driver’s word against that of a parent claiming the bus didn’t stop for their child, a transportation director can go to the data to see exactly what happened, and defuse conflict before it starts. Historical data can be provided to tell the parent when the best time would be for their child to get to their stop.

Routing adjustments are made to help you optimize your routes and improve your fleet metrics. Is a driver taking 20 miles to drive a 10-mile route because of problems with traffic in the area? Is it driver error? Is the driver avoiding dangerous intersections? Now you have the data to compare what’s supposed to be happening with what is happening, and whether changes need to be made to the plan.

The best transportation plan is the one that’s safe for passengers and drivers, provides convenient service for students and parents, and saves the district money. With Comparative Analysis and accurate real-time data and insights, that plan can become reality.

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Tags: safety, route efficiency, comparative analysis, school bus

7 Reasons to Choose Fleet Tracking Software from Synovia Solutions

Posted by Bill Westerman on Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 08:42 AM
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When it comes to fleet management systems, Synovia Solutions delivers a complete package that’s tough to beat. To start, our incredibly capable and intuitive platform is paired with a knowledgeable and experienced sales and support team you can count on. Then there’s Synsurance, a way to pay for your system over time that is unlike anything our competition can offer. In fact, many of our current customers have switched from another GPS solutions provider to Synovia because it’s simple, easy to use and doesn’t require any upfront investment. To help make your choice even more clear, we’ve assembled seven reasons to get started with Synovia.

With Synsurance, there are no upfront costs.- Synsurance means you pay nothing to get started with Synovia, and includes everything you need to get going right away, including all training, hardware and support. What’s more, we guarantee there will never be a price increase for the life of your agreement, so you can your plan your budget knowing your costs won’t increase.

We provide you with essential information in a simple, easy to understand way- Synovia software identifies things you should look out for, be it alerts or key performance indicators – all of which can be fully customized. With Synovia, you never have to dig deep to find the right data. We provide you with clear, high level information tailored to your specific needs. And if there is something that requires your immediate attention, our applications will alert you and provide the details you need to address any issue you may encounter.

Synovia provides an intuitive platform that can be learned quickly- Our software was designed to be incredibly user-friendly from day one, so the amount of training required is minimal. In fact, all of our training videos are embedded in our online help section. We also host a monthly online training webinar at no cost to our clients. Should you ever need a refresher or are looking to get a new hire up to speed, you have the ability to choose when and where you want to learn.

Our platform is designed to do more- In addition to the numerous core benefits our software delivers, Synovia software is engineered to be easy to connect to other third party applications so that you can adopt new capabilities quickly and easily.

Synovia has your back. Always.- At Synovia, our expert support team is full of industry veterans who know every aspect of our software and fully understand fleet management. Their commitment to our customers and years of experience means you’ll never have to search for the right answers to your questions.

We stand behind our products- With Synsurance, your warranty never expires. We provide spare hardware for you to keep on-site. If any piece of your hardware ever malfunctions, we’ll send you a replacement part immediately and at no cost to you, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with extended downtime. We back this up with a 99% uptime guarantee, or we pay.

Software that’s always up-to-date- Synovia provides important software updates three to four times a year. Each update can be accessed quickly and easily and integrates with your existing technology seamlessly. The best part? Every update provides a clear benefit and will never complicate your existing setup. 

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Tags: safety, route efficiency, GPS

Skip the cold and snow – Know when the school bus is coming.

Posted by Bill Westerman on Sun, Feb 02, 2014 @ 08:00 PM

busSevere temperatures with extreme wind chill and snow has disrupted the start to the school year. What does this mean for students waiting for a school bus? It can result in students getting sick, or worse, frostbite from the elements. What if the parents could see when the school bus was a minute or two from the bus stop in their neighborhood? We have been working very hard to provide this visibility to parents. 

Our Parent Access tool allows the parents to track where the school bus is located, and it provides an estimated arrival time for the children's bus stop. It alerts parents when a school bus is delayed. And most of all, it gives parents peace of mind knowing their children are making the bus on time and returning home safely – and shows your district’s commitment to safety.

Check out this clip from Indianapolis’ WISH-TV News 8 on our implementation at several Indiana school districts.

In a winter plagued by storms like the "Polar Vortex," it is rewarding to improve the start to the day for students and parents. 

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Tags: safety, k-12, route efficiency, school bus, GPS

How to teach your kids about school bus safety

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 02:10 PM
boy in front of bus

We know that you want to protect your children at all costs. When it comes to riding the school bus, you can never be too careful. That's why it's super important that you educate your students about school bus safety. Make sure you cover the following areas:

Bus stop etiquette

Safety begins before they even enter the school bus. A student should never run, even if he/she is running late. Kids should line up by the bus stop and wait until the driver motions for them to enter. They can then proceed confidently, knowing that the bus driver has ensured that traffic has indeed stopped.

Bus riding etiquette

Once on the bus, students need to find a seat and sit in it. After they are seated, students are encouraged to buckle seatbelts (if applicable). From that point forward, children are encouraged to essentially be model citizens. Not really, but there are some basic riding rules:

  • No throwing things...even if it’s a ball and otherwise meant to be thrown.

  • No yelling. Normal speaking voices will do.

  • No bullying, hitting or other physical violence. Keep your hands to yourself.

  • No distracting the bus driver.

  • No stealing. (“Thou shalt not...”)

  • No sticking your head or hands (or any other body part) out the window.

  • Keep the aisles clear. Books/bags can be tripping hazards.

Exiting the bus

Once the driver has reached the child’s final destination, make sure students know that the bus needs to come to a full and complete stop before exiting. Failure to do so could result in them resembling a bowling ball going down the bus aisle way, which would obviously be discouraged. It is likewise discouraged to hit other kids in the head with your backpack as you walk by. 

Students should be encouraged to use the handrail while walking down the stairs to exit. (It is there for a reason!) They should also make sure that straps, drawstrings, and clothing don’t get caught in the handrails or the door.

Should homework or a paper fly out from a backpack, students should be aware that they should never chase it under the bus. We know that homework is important, but the student’s life is MORE important. He/She can ask the school bus driver to get it, or they can wait until the bus goes on its way (but only retrieving the paper if it’s not in a street with traffic).

If kids have to cross the street after getting off the bus, they should always do so in front of the bus, never behind. That way, the bus driver can keep his/her eyes on them. Students should also walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus to ensure that the driver can always see them. If the road is clear, students should cross quickly. If not, they should return to the curb and defer to the bus driver's prerogative as to when to cross.

Danger zones

There are certain areas around the bus that are considered “Danger Zones.” They are included because either 1) there is danger from passing cars or 2) there is danger when the bus driver’s sight is impaired. Make sure students are aware of these zones and are encouraged to NOT be in them for extended periods of time - or at all, if possible.  

By educating your students on bus stop safety, as well as the proper way to ride and exit the bus, in addition to the danger zones, you are well on your way to increasing school bus safety. By educating students on these important areas, you are not only making life easier on school bus drivers, but you could also be saving the lives of students...which is totally worthwhile.

How to Increase School Bus Safety

Tags: safety, k-12, school bus

Educating Parents on School Bus Stop Safety

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 02:08 PM

students lining up at busAs a parent, you obviously want to protect your child(ren). It begins from their first day of Kindergarten and lasts well past their high school graduation. 

Part of your role as a parent includes educating your child about the world, including how to be more safe. So prior to their first day of school, we recommend that you learn the following rules of bus stop safety so that you can then, in turn, pass on your education to your students. 

  • Parents and guardians should walk children to the bus stop and wait there with them until the school bus has arrived (preferably after the school bus has pulled away). Model good behavior by walking on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, you should walk on the side of oncoming traffic.
  • Always arrive at the bus stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Even if students are running late, they should never run to the bus. Teach them to walk safely instead of running like banchees. (Then you likely need to teach them what a banchee is.) Most likely, the school bus driver will see them, so there’s no need to rush and risk getting hurt.
  • In the event that there’s some waiting time at the bus stop, roughhousing is discouraged. There’s no need to pick fights before 8:00 a.m. (Or ever, for that matter.)
  • While at the bus stop, students should wait approximately 10 feet (or 5 giant steps) away from the road.
  • Wait for the bus to come to a full and complete stop before boarding or exiting.
  • Watch for red flashing lights and the stop sign to be extended, and cross only when all traffic has stopped. Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street (if necessary).
  • Teach your children to take a seat right away on the bus, to remain seated facing forward, and to always listen to the bus driver.
  • Encourage your children to never speak to strangers (or especially get in the car with one) at the bus stop. 
  • Once off the bus, children are expected to always go straight home and tell parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.
By educating your kids on safety rules, you are setting them up to have a safe and solid start to school. 
How to Increase School Bus Safety

Tags: safety, k-12, school bus

Are your bus drivers prepared for an emergency?

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 08, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

shutterstock 65624194Emergencies happen; sadly, all too often, which is why it's important to be prepared. If you're a Transportation Director or an Assistant Superintendent, you need to ask yourself, "Are our bus drivers prepared for an emergency?"

In the event of a bus emergency, drivers can help fire and medical personnel and enhance the safety of their passengers during accidents or other serious incidents by the following: 

Being certified in CPR and first aid

Bus drivers usually have regular contact with the passengers on their buses. Thus, drivers becoming familiar with their students' medical histories and/or recent illnesses or conditions can be useful information, particularly if a student becomes sick on board (or in the event of an emergency). It's equally important for drivers to be trained in first aid and CPR since they have initial contact with their passengers. Basic first aid and CPR training can be obtained through numerous organizations, including the American Red Cross or your local fire department. During this training, drivers learn how to handle medical and trauma emergencies, including bleeding control, shock, respiratory and cardiac arrest, seizures, diabetes-related problems, hypo- and hyperthermia, and spinal precautions. Obviously, a driver never hopes to use these, but it's important that they have the knowledge in case it's necessary.

Knowing when a bus evacuation is necessary

School districts usually have procedures for their drivers to follow in different emergencies, including evacuating the school bus. Several instances merit a bus evacuation:

  • Fire. If a fire starts on the bus, statistics show that smoke, hazardous gases and fire will spread throughout the bus in two minutes. Therefore, an evacuation is essential.
  • Fuel spill. If, following an accident, fuel is leaking from the school bus or another vehicle involved in the crash, a spark could ignite a fire. Evacuation is necessary.
  • Downed power lines. If power lines are draped across the bus and there is no fire hazard, it will be safest to remain on the bus until electricity has been shut off. However, if a fire ignites, the bus must be evacuated. Jumping out of the bus from the exit farthest from the point of contact with the power lines may be necessary.

Bus drivers should use their best judgement in the event of a bus emergency on a busy section of roadway or on a dangerous curve in the road, as it may be safest to evacuate. 

Establishing a system for identifying students on the bus

Accounting for students will help first responders in the event of an emergency. 

For drivers who have taken the time to learn the names of the students they transport, identifying them becomes second nature, and as long as the driver is capable, he or she can identify students for first responders. If students are not known - for whatever reason - backpacks can be checked so that student IDs can be found. 

It is strongly recommended that each school bus have a list of potential passengers on the bus that is easily accessible to emergency responders.

Bus drivers who know CPR, are familiar with bus evacuation procedures, and have established a system for identifying students on a bus can greatly help fire and medical professionals in the event of an emergency and - more importantly - prevent serious injury or death.

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Tags: safety, k-12, school bus

Avoiding school bus loading/unloading accidents

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 01, 2013 @ 02:05 PM

shutterstock 4508386

One of the leading causes of school bus accidents is carelessness when loading and unloading the bus. What's more devastating is that oftentimes these accidents could have been prevented. If you're a Transportation Director or Assistant Superintendent, it's imperative that you educate your students on the correct way to load and unload the school bus. Here are a few tips that - if shared - could save a life. 


It's important to educate students that it's only safe to approach the school bus after it has come to a complete stop. The driver will open the door and motion for students to enter. They should wait for that signal, knowing that the bus driver will have taken all the necessary precautions - including making sure traffic is stopped.

Schools teach kids to line up in an orderly fashion away from the road and enter the bus one at a time. If more than one child tries to walk up the stairs at a time, it can cause tripping and/or a domino effect should one fall.

Students they should always use the handrail when walking up the steps so as to avoid slipping, especially during icy winters.


Yes, there’s even a safe way to exit a bus too. Once the bus has completely stopped, students can walk toward the door. It is discouraged to bop other kids in the head with bags as they walk by.

Students should be encouraged to use the handrail while walking down the stairs to exit. (It is there for a reason!) They should also make sure that straps, drawstrings, and clothing don’t get caught in the handrails or the door.

Should homework or a paper fly out from a backpack, students should be aware that they should never chase it under the bus. We know that homework is important, but the student’s life is MORE important. He/She can ask the school bus driver to get it, or they can wait until the bus goes on its way (but only retrieving the paper if it’s not in a street with traffic).

If kids have to cross the street after getting off the bus, they should always do so in front of the bus, never behind. That way, the bus driver can keep his/her eyes on them. Students should also walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus to ensure that the driver can always see them. If the road is clear, students should cross quickly. If not, they should return to the curb and defer to the bus driver’s prerogative as to when to cross.

Just like there’s more than one way to skin a cat (or so the saying goes), there’s more than one way to enter and exit a bus, but the safe way is the best way. So make sure your school system is teaching students the proper way and thus avoiding loading/unloading accidents.


Back to School Safety Tips for Parents

Tags: safety, k-12, school bus

Bullying On School Buses: Part 2

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 @ 02:03 PM

shutterstock 114356341So how should your bus drivers handle bullying? Read on for some great tips to help de-escalate these difficult situations.

Use de-escalation techniques to prevent conflict

Utilizing active listening techniques will help drivers, aides and school staff to convince a volatile student that he or she is being heard. Phrases like “I understand how you feel” and “Explain that to me so I can help you” will put the ball in the student’s court, and encourage him or her to think about the situation. Drivers could also offer compromises or options — such as explaining the consequences of the student’s actions under school policy so he or she can make a decision.

Pay attention to sentence structure

When speaking to an angry or frustrated student, it is vital to place the most important information that you want to convey to the student at the beginning of sentences.

When people are agitated, they’re not going to listen to the whole sentence, so whatever you say first is really the only thing that they are going to hear. You need to say what is most important to the other person, not necessarily what is most important to you, as the driver.

For example, if a student is getting out of his or her seat because he or she is in a hurry to get home, the school bus driver should say, “I will get you home soon if you sit down,” as opposed to, “Sit down and I will get you home soon.”

Paraphrasing students’ words can help

A form of verbal de-escalation called paraphrasing can also help you to start a calming conversation with a frustrated student. When the student says something to you, you should repeat it back to the student in your own words. This will demonstrate that you are actively listening to his or her concerns.

People who are agitated or possibly on the verge of becoming aggressive want other people to respond to them, just the same way that a person in a normal conversation would. In the same vein, you can also offer students a second chance by asking them to start explaining their problem from the beginning.

Avoid aggressive body language

When approaching a volatile student, it is crucial to remain non-threatening. If you’re dealing with someone who is potentially violent, and you’re flinging your arms around because you’re getting excited, that rapid movement subconsciously triggers something in a violent person, which can make the situation worse. Have proper body language and display a sense of calmness to the person that you’re dealing with.

Drivers and aides should avoid charging at a student. If you have a student in the middle or toward the back of the bus who is getting agitated, the driver doesn’t want to walk down the aisle to that student. It’s seen as charging; you don’t want to encroach upon their personal space.

Don’t be verbally confrontational

In a similar vein, school personnel should not resort to yelling to achieve order in a classroom or on a bus, as it can actually make the situation worse.

Yelling "Sit down and shut up" or "I am in charge and you are not!" is no more successful on a bus than it is in a classroom or school hallway. At the same time, however, when a student crosses a line into irrationality, sometimes speaking slowly and quietly won’t cut it.

When someone is acting irrationally, sometimes it takes a loud voice or noise or unexpected action to stop the chain of irrational thinking and get his or her attention: yell "Stop" or "Listen."

Know where to pull over the bus

If you have a serious incident on the bus, you need to find a safe place to pull the bus off to the side of the road, contact dispatch and let them know what is going on. If necessary, call 911.

Where you pull your bus over is important. Boardman suggests that drivers check along their routes for safe places to park the bus — such as grocery store or church parking lots or side roads — as part of their emergency planning. Pulling over so that you can attend to the incident is safer than trying to drive at the same time.

By educating and training your bus drivers on how to handle difficult situations, you are empowering them and making a stand against bullying - both of which are noble causes.

How to Increase School Bus Safety

Tags: safety, school bus

Bullying On School Buses: Part 1

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 02:00 PM

stop bullying signIt's likely no surprise that bullying is a big problem today in schools - and on buses. It's important that you, as a Transportation Director, train your drivers so that they know how to respond when/if an incident occurs. That's precisely why we put together this post with important information on how to train your drivers in handling these intense situations.

Crisis prevention experts, school safety professionals and violence intervention trainers all agree: Your campus and pupil transportation staff must be capable of actively listening to students, addressing harassment and bullying in a timely and consistent manner, and defusing tense situations  — and if violence does occur, they must be ready to protect themselves and their students. And it begins with knowing your students.

Know your students

The easiest way to recognize potentially dangerous or unwanted behavior is to know your students, according to Dr. Randy Boardman, executive director of research and development at the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI).

Drivers and teachers who address their students by name each day are more likely to recognize unusual behavior. They are also more likely to forge a relationship with a student that could lead him or her to ask for help rather than act out.

Recognize the signs

Knowing your students can help you to better identify changes in mood or manner that might signify a potential outburst or misbehavior. If a student who is upbeat and talkative suddenly becomes withdrawn or sullen, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

Students who are bullied, Boardman says, might begin to overtly challenge their aggressors or withdraw completely.

Look for non-verbal cues

Besides changes in mood or behavior, Brooks suggests that drivers and other school staff look for more overt indicators of potential violence — such as physical cues. Body language, such as clenching of the fists and repeated rubbing of the head or hair, can signify frustration.

Also, the removal of clothing like jackets, sweatshirts or glasses can be a signal. “The removing of the articles is a way that human beings tend to try to deescalate themselves naturally and bring themselves down to a calm state. So when they take off something, they’re trying to shed that emotion, trying to get rid of it,” Brooks says.

Look for verbal cues

A student who is angry or agitated to the point of violence might use forced or strained speech when addressing an authority figure. He or she also might refrain from using profanity before losing control — but then switch to inappropriate, provocative language as he or she becomes more flustered. Parroting or echoing what is said by an authority figure might be another indicator.

If bullying is an issue on your bus, tune in next week for Part 2 of our series on bullying that will detail how to handle the situation.


How to Increase School Bus Safety

Tags: safety, school bus