Transportation department tests new tracking system

Zonar reader in AISD bus

Zonar reader in AISD bus

The AISD transportation department used the summer to get the new Zonar system ready for the new school year. “We have been tracking 30 students on seven buses to make sure that the GPS is working correctly and to make sure that the Zonar is reading and tracking the student data,” explained Debbie Swenson, regular education router foreman for the AISD transportation department, about tests they ran during the summer. Tim Collins, AISD transportation director, said the tests helped them identify and “work out kinks and bugs.”

Zonar will improve the safety and security of the AISD transportation system. It has now been installed on all AISD school buses and, once fully operational, will register each time a student gets on and off his or her bus. Students will tap their IDs on the Zonar scanner at the front of the bus each time they enter and exit. The Zonar system notes the time and location and allows transportation staff to know who is on the buses at all times. With its GPS function, Zonar also enables the transportation department to track the location of each bus in real time and know when they are loading or unloading students.

The final installation of Zonar on remaining AISD buses was completed on Aug. 13. Now that all buses are ready, the transportation department will soon begin introducing the system to students, parents and school staff. Once all final preparations are complete later this semester, the goal is to start rolling Zonar out to three schools every two weeks until the entire district is on the tracking system.

“It is a huge undertaking,” Swenson said. “Having the ability to locate our buses and students quickly, especially in the event of an emergency, is very important to us. We are very excited about the system and its potential.”

[Watch NBC's story about the AISD's Zonar.]