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The true cost of School Bus Wi-fi and automatic downloading of mobile video data

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 10:40 PM

There has been a lot of talk and their are a number of mobile video camera manufactuers who offer automatic video downloading when the school bus enters the depot via a wi-fi network. I've listened to many sales presentations and actually worked for a leading manufactuer offering school Transpoartion Directors this feature. Yes it all sounds great, no need to walk in the rain to collect the video from the bus, and it is all possible but the reality is that their are many issues that have to be over come, its complex and its expensive.

Setting up a Wi-Fi network

If you have a large house you will know that your home wi-fi signal gets weaker the further away you are from the router. Its also effected by walls and rooms, metal etc. This is exactly the same issue facing your school bus yard. To over come this many routers, boosters and even towers have to be positioned around your bus yard. These routers etc can cost $500 to $1000 each...do the maths you might need 10 for an average yard.

DVR compatibility

This is the big one. Your fleet might be a mix of different manufactuers DVR's or they might even be the same but they are old models without wi-fi capability or you might want routering and scheduling capabilities but unfortunately they will all have to be replaced. So you are now faced with equiping your whole fleet out again. If you have the budget then great.

IT Department

This type of project needs your IT department to be fully engaged and supportive. When this thing is all set-up he or she will be the one left re-booting and sorting out any technical issues you have...thats the reality. They will have some major concerns.

 

  1. Security - how is this wi-fi network secure - effectively a gateway in for hacking info child video from your bus on its way over the airways to your office. Also a gateway in for trojan horses and malicious coding
  2. Where does this video go - a laptop or a RIAD server...these can be large files so a new server may need to be purchased outside the school main network so its isolated. Laptops might also need to be ungraded to run software and to handle these large video files
  3. Video download time - some of the video clips can take 20 minutes to an hour to download...can you wait that long? how much video data transfering can your wi-fi network habdle at one time i.e 5 buses come in and they all start downloading at the same time.
  4. Sharing video files - handling and sharing large video files across a School board network is not without its issues, again security and data bandwidth for the receiver, also user training
  5. Technology change: unfortunately the reality is by the time you have managed to get the OK, budget allocated and the project implemented new technology will be coming out - just look at the pace cell phone and internet technology is moving. So with a short space of time you could be left with a large bill and a dinasuaer of a network solution.

 

However, if you are a large fleet / organization and you do have spare budget and the right support team in place then I would say that it might be worth looking into and implementing. But for those with small to mid 1-50 Buses I would spend my budget on more crucial operational issues and if you do want to replace an old DVR system get one with SD cards, not big old harddrives...and buy an umbrella for those rainy days...it will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run


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Categories: School Bus