Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Monroe Public Schools Adds Digital Bus Surveillance

The fleet of buses in the Monroe Public School District is getting an expensive upgrade aimed at keeping student riders safer.

The interim director of transportation for Monroe Public Schools has an up-close view inside district school buses, literally, at his fingertips.

Video is taken from a high-tech digital camera system that was installed on one of the buses at the end of the school year. It gives a view of both the students and the driver.

Interim Director Jerry Oley explains, "This is the mile-per-hour on top showing how fast he's driving that bus... and that he's applied his breaks."

Oley is heading up a major project taking place this summer: two cameras are being installed on all 64-buses -- one in the front and one in the back. "It also views all the way forward," he says, "The nice thing about these cameras is that they have built in audio, so they're able to pick up all voices and communication throughout the entire bus anytime, regardless of where they're sitting."

If an incident happens on the bus the driver has the option to press a button, marking it on the hard drive, which can become an important safeguard for everyone. "It allows us to go back and review incidents that occur on our bus, whether a driver brings it to our attention or a parent brings it to our attention. It will allow us to review the exact details of what occurred."

He expects the camera systems to improve behavior of students on the bus while also easing parents' minds. "This will give us full accurate information on how the driver handled their bus," he says, "how they handled their children and how their children were dropped off at the end of the day."

The system costs the district nearly $138,000, but the school board believes the reduction in liability and increased safety make it an invaluable addition.