Today's consumer wants to try out new technology before buying it, and school officials are no different. Recently, the Gordon County school system in northern Georgia signed an agreement to launch a pilot program of StudentConnect notification technology and, if successful, will deploy the student transportation management system districtwide.
The initial pilot will test the system on school buses at Tolbert Elementary School for two to four weeks.
StudentConnect's technology provides real-time alerts to parents and school transportation officials when students fail to board their school bus and enter or exit the bus at the wrong stop, according to Marrietta, Ga.-based East Coast Diversified Corp., the parent company. The system notifies parents within five minutes of bus arrival and alerts them when any anomaly occurs during transit.
Using ECDC's proprietary "wireless communication between GPS and UHF RFID interrogators" technology, the system also delivers notifications to school officials. And school districts pay nothing for using StudentConnect because it is sponsored by local and corporate advertisers.
Andre Fluellen, NFL defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, recently became a spokesperson for StudentConnect, driven by his commitment to youth programs and child safety. Fluellen runs a football camp, along with NFL running back Ronnie Brown, at Cartersville High School in Bartow County, which is adjacent to Gordon County.
"It's nice to see that StudentConnect pilot program will be tested near where I'm from," said Fluellen. "I know people with kids who go to school in Gordon County and are not home when the kids leave or return from school, so I'm glad to see the kids will be a bit safer, and the parents will have peace of mind."
Gordon County Transportation Director Geary Cooper is also optimistic about the pilot program.
"This will also afford us a tool to monitor the pick-up and drop off times with no expense to taxpayers or parents," he noted.
Kirk Williams, chief technology officer at ECDC, said StudentConnect technology is already being used by several schools across the nation.
"Transportation administrators and parents can now breathe a little easier because of this technology. It adds a new dimension to child safety while riding on school buses and will bring efficiency to the management of students riding on school buses," said Williams.
Added Fluellen, "As StudentConnect rolls out to other schools, parents and kids will benefit significantly from this technology."