In India, GPS in School Buses Adds Security

Oct. 20--MUMBAI, India -- A school bus operator -- sitting in front of a computer, monitoring the fleet of buses and pin-pointing the movement of each and every bus in real time as children are dropped home -- is not a scene from a sci-fi movie.

The Cathedral and John Connan High School in Fountain has beaten BEST buses and BMC to installing Global Positioning System (GPS) units in each of its 52 buses, making it a first for city schools.

This satellite-based tracking system, installed in August, will be fully functional in a month's time and enable both school authorities and school bus operators to track the buses.

"This will greatly enhance security, as we will no longer be dependent on a call from the driver or the attendant in case of an emergency," school principal Meera Isaacs said.

Eaga India, a multinational company based in Kolkata, provides the GPS service to Cathedral School. "We provide GPS for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, but this is the first time we are providing the service to a school," said Eaga India executive director Ian Colquhoun said.

It was Indrani Malkani, a parent of a Cathedral School student, who came up with the idea of installing GPS in the buses.

Malkani had pioneered the model school bus system four years ago with Isaacs and then deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Himanshu Roy. The system involved putting nearly 1,800 students of Cathedral onto school buses, reducing the traffic snarl caused by private cars.

The model includes safety railings on windows, closed doors after boarding or alighting as well as padded bars in front of the seats.

"GPS adds value to the existing school bus system. I feel a lot safer knowing that our kids can be located at any point of time. One can also refer to past files of the bus movement and analyse what went wrong in case there is an accident," another student's parent, Karin Dutta, said.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Times of India Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.