The expectation of Wi-Fi access everywhere is making its way to the K-12 market in the form of the “Connected School Bus”. In the ever-increasing world of the Internet of Things IoT, the old cheese wagons of yesteryear are being retired and replaced with modern digital vessels known as Connected School Buses. Connected School Buses are being transformed into mobile classrooms with positive outcomes far beyond learning. The Connected School Bus is a versatile solution combining safety, security and network access with benefits to students, parents, school staff and fleet managers.
The first and most obvious benefit Connected School Buses provide, is access to internet connectivity which students have come to expect everywhere they go. It’s no secret that traveling with children in a car is made easier by turning on a Wi-Fi hotspot and allowing kids to watch a movie or play games on the iPad. The same thing applies to school buses. By installing internet capability, students can enjoy the same wireless access on the bus that they have on campus. This also means the same web restrictions on campus must be activated on the bus, shielding students from dangerous content.
One of the greatest ways Wi-Fi enabled school buses are being used is to provide internet access to students who may not have Wi-Fi at home. In the 21st century, connected learning has become the new normal, and some students, especially in low-income and rural communities, are missing out on learning technology due to lack of internet at home. Schools are developing initiatives to leave Wi-Fi enabled buses parked in communities after school hours to give students who don’t have internet at home, a chance to connect. In today’s school culture an increasing amount of homework assignments require internet access. Connected School Buses are bridging the homework gap many children face giving kids in rural and low-income areas the opportunity to stay up to speed on their schoolwork and be competitive academically.
Smart Video Surveillance is another feature being installed and used to improve passenger safety and monitor student/driver behavior in real-time. This technology allows for faster, more accurate incident response, improving every aspect of bus transportation for students, parents and fleet managers. This same surveillance system which features HD video recording and two-way audio capabilities gives instructors an opportunity to present learning based content remotely which is particularly helpful for children with long school commutes. This equipment with HD video conferencing technology turns the bus into a learning room with life like experiences for students. For example, Lockheed Martin created ‘The Mars Experience Bus’, the first immersive virtual reality vehicle ever, giving students the opportunity to experience a virtual ride along the red planet.
Wi-Fi enabled buses are having an impact on more than just homework. Connected School Buses are allowing parents to have greater visibility into bus routes telling them if buses will be on time or delayed, a big plus when dealing with freezing temperatures during winter. Wi-Fi capability allows buses to be tracked by GPS to locate the vehicle in real-time and alert personnel if the vehicle travels outside of the assigned route or if a bus needs maintenance. Connected School Buses leave no child behind by providing continued learning outside of the classroom, on the bus, and into homes that lack internet while also delivering safety and security advancements. Connected School Buses are proving to be safer, smarter, and a more efficient form of transportation for students.