BUS TECHNOLOGY: Iowa School Trying Something New

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A northeast Iowa school district is testing new technology in its bus fleet to keep students safe. The technology is called Z-pass.

It was used at a Waterloo middle school last school year, and next fall a Waterloo elementary will try out the software.

“As technology has improved in other walks of life, it doesn’t seem to be used in school busing,” says Waterloo School Board President Mike Young.

It uses iPads or tablets mounted on the bus dashboard to monitor who is getting on and off the bus. Students scan an ID card as they enter the bus and the system takes note.

The software doesn’t just take attendance. It also modifies the bus route in real-time based on which students are absent so the bus doesn’t drive to unnecessary stops.

Some parents in the district are a bit hesitant about the program due to privacy concerns.

“It just concerns me a little that we’re beginning to track our children,” says parent Dan Bogart. “It’s a public school, and it’s government run. It just needs to be used for the purpose and limited purpose.”

The elementary school will test the Z-pass until December of 2013. Then the school board will decide whether to implement it for the entire fleet.