Many people choose to plant a GPS tracking device on a pet of theirs to make sure that, should the pet be lost or otherwise need help, the owner or a shelter worker can spring into action and keep that adored cat or dog out of harm’s way. Similar technologies and practices have been applied to young children, preventing countless kidnappings and allowing parents to respond to an emergency with only a moment’s notice. Unsurprisingly, some schools have started incorporating small and inexpensive GPS devices to allow management and monitoring of students, the latest of which is Gateways Schools in Orange County.
Individual students will carry digital identification cards equipped with tracking technology. Those cards are then scanned when the child enters or exits their bus, and future systems may require students to scan at the doors of their school as well. Why implement this system? Administrators hope that it will foster safety and allow teachers, administrators, and parents to receive crucial information as quickly as possible in an emergency.
Officials of the school district are simply testing the GPS tracking solution right now, but full implementation may occur as soon as the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.
This new system will help admins know for certain whether or not a student actually gets on their assigned bus. Each driver will be equipped with a tablet that will allow them to monitor a number of factors in real-time, likely including crucial maintenance information for the buses themselves. Parents would be able to track buses in real-time, and if the school bus is in an accident, the GPS technology within would allow law enforcement to immediately dispatch to the bus’s exact location. Parents would be alerted immediately, and rescue responders would have a list of exactly which students were on the bus, allowing all students to be rescued without fear of being lost.
Many may view this as an invasion of privacy, and with GPS technology, that’s often a concern. The school board has expressed their sentiments, acknowledging the elephant in the room that is privacy. Students may also take some time to get used to this new system, but district officials insist that this is all being done to promote safety and allow parents to monitor their own children as needed.
The system itself will cost, all said and done, approximately $37,000. $25,000 of that will be provided by a recent Safe Schools grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The system has already been tested by a trial group of 50 high school students who, despite the system’s current state of incompletion, have scanned their cards for some time now. Data will be gathered at wireless access points that will be placed at the bus storage garage.
Do you feel that GPS systems such as these are redundant or even intrusive? If your child’s school were considering a GPS system, would you support their use? What might make the system more approachable? Let us know in the comments section below!