A presentation was made for the Wallenpaupack School Board, September 11, about a major security camera upgrade put in place board the district’s 65 school buses.
WALLENPAUPACK - A presentation was made for the Wallenpaupack School Board, September 11, about a major security camera upgrade put in place board the district’s 65 school buses.
William Theobald, who is the Assistant Principal at the North Intermediate School, said they have come a long way. About 15 years ago, they started with a single camera and a VCR. “The VCR on the bus gave a black and white picture. They were very unreliable; sometimes when you hit a bump it would eject a tape.”
About 10 years ago they switched to SafetyVision, which placed two cameras in each bus. This was an improvement, showing two views. The system, however, started to fail after these many years.
Over the summer of 2017, SafetyVision installed four new color cameras on each bus, and makes use of a DVR. Flash drives, 64 gigabytes and 128 gigabytes, contains the video.
The cameras have infra-red capability, allowing visibility even in the dark. This will allow district administrators to see what was going on aboard a late bus in winter.
Each of the cameras continue to operate for 15 to 20 minutes after the bus is parked and the engine is shut off.
The cameras also record sound.
In addition to revealing activity board a bus in the event of an incident or complaint, the system also records data about the bus operation, including location (GIS coordinates) and speed, date and time and the bus number.
When the card is inserted into a reader, the screen will show four camera angles, a map showing the bus’s motion and data about the operation.
One camera angle shows the driver and the doorway. Superintendent Michael Silsby said this is important in that it will help resolve occasional problems where a parent tries to board a bus. He said this is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania.
Theobald stated that the company indicates that the video should last about a week, before it is cycled over. Normally an incident will be made known within there for four days, he said, so this will be more than enough time to catch an issue on camera and remove the card to view it.
Silsby said that a wireless system could be pursued in the future to allow administrators to watch in real time, what is happening abroad a bus.
Drivers can also hit a “panic button” in an emergency, which will be marked on the camera video.
Wallenpaupack school buses cover 360 square miles.
Silsby commented that apart from their education, the second most important thing they do every day is to get their kids to school and home safely. “We cover 360 square miles in our territory of the district. That’s a tough job, being a bus driver, when you have all those kids behind you and have to focus on the road… We want kids to behave, number one, and when they don’t behave we want to be able to work with them.” The camera system, he said, helps to solve a lot of problems.
Silsby stated told The News Eagle that the total cost of the camera system was $118,805. Cameras were installed on 65 buses, of which 62 are owned by contractors. The district owns the other three buses, and pays for the equipment and installation of the systems. They presently do not have a camera system on school vans, but Silsby said that they are researching options.
The next Wallenpaupack School Board meeting is set for Monday, October 9 at 6 p.m in the High School Library. A committee meeting precedes it at 5:30 p.m.