New cameras offer greater security for KISD buses
Feb 02, 2013 (Kilgore News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Video monitoring systems in Kilgore ISD's fleet of buses are nothing new, but the latest upgrade, Jody Sanders hopes, will better ensure accountability for all the district's drivers and riders.
"Anything that's taking place on that bus we have recorded," the school's transportation director explained Friday. Most often, video review stems from bad behavior. "A driver may write up five kids every day for a week -- really, when we pull a video it's because a parent or whatever is saying they don't think they're kid did this. It makes it better for us and easier to prove our point one way or the other."
And that, he says, is worth every penny of almost $45,000.
"To me, it just holds everybody accountable. Everybody that's involved with that bus -- whether it's students, drivers, teachers, sponsors that have to ride on there," he said. For the drivers, "To me, they need to look at it as their best friend, in a way. If they are driving and doing everything they need to as a driver, that's going to be their best friend, that camera."
Or, he said, just the opposite. From collisions to speeding and other traffic incidents, the system aims to prove driver responsibility, both in road safety and onboard discipline.
"When you turn that key on that bus, it's recording."
The Kilgore ISD school board approved the expenditure when they adopted the district's budget in August, according to superintendent of finance Revard Pfeffer. The final project, as presented to the board on Oct. 22, includes the installation of 37 units for $44,717.
Such in-transit surveillance is in common usage, Sanders said. He doesn't know of any district that doesn't utilize a monitoring system. "That's pretty much a given for the last several years."
The latest project is a direct replacement, removing non-functioning equipment and upgrading the district's options to current technology standards.
"The existing system that was in those buses, they were to the point they weren't working," he said. "You never knew from one day to the next if you were getting anything on those videos. Some of them were recording, some of them weren't, some of them we thought were... They were just old and dated."
The new camera systems on 37 of the district's 39 vehicles include three recording units. Each also adds a passive GPS system and other sensors monitoring the vehicle's blinkers, STOP arm and other elements. All the data is accessible via a simple USB download or monitor plug-in.
"When I pull that video it will show me where that bus has been, where it was at at the time of the incident. It will give me the speed of the bus," he explained. "It also gives you the speed limit on that particular street they're on as well. It's pretty neat."
On average, considering lengths vary between the district's 31 bus routes, the 32 gigabyte systems will record about six weeks of footage. Once the memory reaches capacity, the system will overwrite the earliest data.
"There's never been a need to go back and look at something even a week old," Sanders said, no demand to archive the footage. "If there's an issue, whether it's the driver or the student, within a day or two we're trying to look at it and see what's what."
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