To say that GPS technology has evolved — both in terms of its capability and in regard to its potential — over the last few years is certainly something of an understatement. Ten years ago, GPS devices essentially had one core purpose — to get you from point A to point B in one piece in the fastest way possible. Then, in a post-iPhone world where every commercially available smartphone has a powerful GPS chip built inside, things expanded exponentially.

Now, GPS trackers are seen as a way to safeguard and protect one of the most important qualities in both our personal and our professional lives: visibility. Enterprises use them to gain better visibility into their fleets of vehicles, which can then be used to improve everything from driver training to asset allocation moving forward. Indeed, this trend has continued in a number of cities around the country, guaranteeing better visibility into perhaps the most important factor of all: our children.

It was recently revealed that the Northern Gateway Public School District will soon install GPS trackers on all of its buses, allowing parents to instantly view locations and routes online. But the potential implications of this advancement don’t stop there — far from it. It’s a move that actually brings with it a wide range of benefits that are certainly worth exploring.

GPS Tracking on School Buses: What You Need to Know

Superintendent Kevin Andrea of the Northern Gateway Public School District recently debuted his intentions for the tracking system at a meeting with the board of trustees on June 26, 2018. As of right now, the district is planning to run a small-scale pilot program in the fall that will involve installing GPS devices on a handful of buses. Assuming that the program is successful — and that the district is able to garner the necessary level of support from both key stakeholders and parents everywhere — it will be rolled out in a much wider capacity during the 2019 school year.

Kevin Andrea said that the system is designed to be particularly helpful for the parents of younger children who live in rural areas — those who traditionally have to take longer bus rides back and forth to school than most. Those children often have to wait for the bus in the morning for very long periods of time – with GPS technology, they would no longer have to “guess” as to what is the right time to leave home and potentially be waiting on the side of a rural, dangerous road for a half hour or more in the early morning hours.

Likewise, parents will now know exactly when their child’s bus is predicted to drop them off — thus easing a bit of the burden they naturally feel each day. Parents can leave home to pick up their children at exactly the right moment, thus giving them a better opportunity to plan their day around making sure that their kids get home safe and sound. In theory, parents would also have fast and easy access to all of this information from their smartphones, their tablets and any other device with an active Internet connection. That is certainly the intention at this point, and the program itself is one that technology aficionados will certainly be watching with great enthusiasm moving forward.

Once all buses within the district are equipped with the right type of portable GPS device, this real-time, Internet-connected visibility will be made possible by way of a unique Bus Planner application. It will be provided to contractors and associated vendors at no cost, but it will remain the property of the Northern Gateway Public School District.

As of right now, the district is currently investigating costs and is accepting bids from contractors to try to get the pilot program — and the eventual widespread deployment — up and running. The first round of portable GPS units is predicted to be installed this summer, prior to the beginning of the pilot in August or September of 2018. If this program is successful, however, it’s easy to see a future where more districts around the country quickly embrace these types of opportunities with open arms.