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Futuristic School Bus Transportation

Monday December 17, 2018

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Future school buses are the one that combines technological features such as onboard Wi-Fi, telematics, camera, Global Positioning System, driver support tools, etc.

This is a versatile transport solution, which is a typical example of the Internet of Things (IoT) of today, combines security, safety, and network access while on the road.

These facilities accrue as benefits to students, fleet staff, school staff and the parents. Let us see what the benefits of future school bus are and how they are different from normal buses.

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1. Bridge the digital gap of the underprivileged

Many American homes which have low income still do not the means to access a hi-speed broadband Internet connection. Many children from low-income households are thus unable to complete their daily homework assignments.

When school buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, it helps these and other students complete their homework while on a long ride back home.

In addition to helping students, parked connected school buses can double up as Wi-Fi hotspots offers internet access to the underprivileged when they are not carrying students. These buses can also find places in the case when schools sponsor programs or organize fundraisers. 

The same wireless access as is on the campus is made available in the bus. Therefore the same web filtering rules are on and no dangerous content can be streamed.

A normal bus, on the other hand, does not offer this advantage. Though the fare may be less, other expenses such as Internet access costs through other means and associated costs may compensate for the savings made.

Moreover, the student travelling by a normal bus is denied access to information as compared to other students that travel in next generation school buses and therefore loses out on many related counts.

2. Anywhere learning is possible

A student travelling in the next generation bus is able to access learning management systems while on the road. They are able to chat with their teachers and mentors, check their grades, view their assignments, Moreover, the student can reach out and access Google Classroom to view and download or upload their homework.

This learning for students is not limited to those who attend classes and do the homework. Connected school buses help sports students to catch up with their missed lessons.

The greatest advantage here is that when such students travel on the normal bus they stand a great chance of losing their sleep hours.

A connected bus helps the students to get home and catch up with their sleep or attend to their part-time jobs or pursue other extracurricular activities with ease.

Another interesting example is the instance of Lockheed Martin creating the first ever immersive virtual reality vehicle, meaning it provides the students with a virtual reality experience on the way back home. The Mars Experience Bus was their one such creation.

For bus commutes that last for more than 45 minutes, instructors can present class lessons to the students in a remote fashion instead of extending the school timings. Travel in normal buses would deprive children and the tutors of this facility.

3. Smart video surveillance enhances safety

Untoward incidents that threaten the safety of children travelling to school in normal buses many a time go unnoticed.  However, connected buses with smart video surveillance can be used to improve passenger safety and also aids in monitoring the student and driver behavior in real time.

Authorities can watch a live and real-time video that is being recorded in the bus. The surveillance system would monitor both the exterior and interior of the bus. Two-way audio facilities allow the authorities to act fast in case of unexpected emergencies.

A reckless driver can be tamed, both the bus driver and other civilian drivers that drive past the flashing lights of the school bus.

Normal buses’ drivers can travel at the speed they want and there can be no control whatsoever on the unruly behavior of the drivers. The passengers usually bear the brunt of such behavior.

4. Provide timely information to parents

The parents are allowed to have more visibility when their children travel on these school buses. They get information in real time telling them if the bus will be on time or delayed to reach a specified bus stop.

This is a big plus during winter days when the driver has to deal with ice and snow on the roads and suffers freezing temperatures.

GPS helps the system track the buses in real time and alerts authorities if the bus strays from the normally prescribed route or if the bus faces a breakdown.

The exact spot is notified via alerts through integration to social media. The authorities can enable geo-fencing, and even proactively monitor the maintenance of the school bus.

When children travel in normal buses, parents sometimes wait for hours on end at the bus stop and what it means is a colossal waste of resources. Sometimes children wait outside in the cold for hours if the bus is delayed.

5. Relay back maintenance issues in a timely manner

Futuristic school buses have the technology to relay back relevant information about the bus status to the concerned authorities.

Examples of variables that can be conveyed back are fuel economy, tire pressure, and engine fault codes. The authorities can then decide if the engine of the bus is running at its peak performance values.

Preventive maintenance action is made possible with these actions.  The ultimate results are that costs are lowered and expulsions of gases that affect the environment negatively are reduced.

A normal bus would just end up breaking down suddenly in a majority of cases. This would mean upset of normal routines and eventually end up in unplanned extra costs.

6. Help to make up the academic shortfall of the country

According to statistics, students in the United States are academically behind students of many other nations. Therefore, it is a good idea to increase students’ access to resources via these buses. This would only serve to increase their intellectual awareness.

7. Improve the behavior of the students

Some students with behavioral issues many a time require a distraction that would keep them calm.

Wi-Fi in a connected bus is an educational distraction that would hold their attention. They would keep away from distraction the other children or even the bus driver.

Those children travelling on a normal bus can give vent to their feelings in any manner that they want to and there is no tether for this.

Conclusion

The true value of this kind of transport solution is the integration of the wireless, telematics, security, camera and other components which turn this into one single powerful platform. The uses are nearly unlimited.