When my father was a kid, he walked to school in three feet of snow – uphill both ways, of course. When I was a kid, though, I took the bus to school, and it was an imprecise science to say the least. My mother would send me off to the bus stop and assume I got to school okay. She would then wait at the bus stop, rain or shine, waiting to welcome me home, even when the bus was delayed by traffic. There wasn’t much she could do about this system; it’s just how things worked back then. But in this modern age of embedded M2M technologies, parents expect more information and more precise treatment of their most precious commodities: their children.
But recently, thanks to a merger between two of the biggest players in the K-12 telematics space, parents can expect a lot more from these school buses – and school districts can save money and monitor their assets better than ever before. When Synovia, LLC and Everyday Solutions came together to form Synovia Solutions, the two combined the best aspects of their solutions to create a powerful force in this specialized market.
In an exclusive interview with TMC (News - Alert), Jon King, CEO of Synovia Solutions, explained the unique challenges of the K-12 telematics space and how Synovia’s solutions can help fleet managers save money for districts while providing safety for students and peace of mind for parents.
The biggest issue in this space, according to King, is the precious commodity involved. While shipping and trucking companies can deal with important cargo, from food to medical supplies, there is little doubt that a school bus driver transports the most precious commodity in the world: children. Districts are keenly interested in enhancing the safety of students on board the buses and Synovia’s software can help with that, ensuring that drivers are operating their vehicles safely and within district policies. The solution can also ensure that kids get on the bus, make it to school and get picked up and dropped off at the proper stop.
In addition to safety issues, these solutions can help school districts save money, and these days when schools are facing massive budget crunches, every bit of savings can help. King quoted figures that estimate the cost of operating a school bus at around $50,000 a year, including maintenance, fuel and driver pay. If, for example, a school can save a half-gallon of fuel per bus per day, then a school with a fleet of 200 buses could save over $60,000 a year. Synovia’s solutions also help with accurate driver pay, taking information straight from the buses to the school payment system, helping cut down on human error and eliminating costly overtime.
Synovia’s solutions are hosted in the cloud, but the districts own the data. The company takes the data and gives it back to fleet managers in a format that is easily digestible. The software can help fleet managers keep track of time, lateness, idling stopping and more, helping them get a handle on this enormous asset. Since Synovia does not ask for payment on hardware and installation up front, schools can work the cost of these solutions into their operating expenses, making budgeting easier. And, with the savings provided by the solutions, they are self-funding.
King sees a bright future ahead for Synovia Solutions, including many cutting-edge innovations in this space. Synovia will include an engine diagnostic component, capturing what is happening with an engine so districts can perform preventative maintenance instead of waiting for a breakdown. It will also improve on the student verification component, providing real-time data through a portal to both parents and school officials, telling them when students get on and off the bus. With the “Here Comes the Bus” smartphone app, parents can see where the bus is and when to go out to the bus stop. That means that parents won’t have to wait out in the rain for the bus like my mom did. And maybe then kids won’t have to hear the stories about how dad walked on his hands through a swamp to get to school so early in the morning it was still dark. And sparing kids from that story may be the greatest contribution any company could make…
Edited by Jamie Epstein