BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: In the wake of the tragic death of a kindergarten student two months ago, after she was left locked in a minivan for hours, an Indian school here is set to implement a high-tech solution that will enable the school and parents to monitor students’ entry into and exit from school buses.
Called Automated Child Tracking System (ACTS), the state-of-the-art monitoring system will be adopted for the first time in Qatar by Birla Public School when the school reopens in September after the summer vacations, officials said yesterday.
“We have been working on this system for quite sometime so children can be monitored to ensure their security and safety,” said A K Shrivastava, the school principal.
A Qatar-based IT solutions provider, iNet Middle East, will implement this automated Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-based student tracking system in the school’s buses. iNet uses a combination of RFID, GPS (Global Positioning System) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technologies.
RFID is a type of automatic identification system whose purpose is to enable data to be transmitted by a portable device, called tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application.
All the buses of BPS will be equipped with RFID readers and each student will be given an RFID card (pictured) which incorporates GPS and GPRS technologies, with all the student’s particulars printed on it.
Using the technology, the parents will get a text message every time the student gets into the bus and alights while going to the school from home and when returning. Alert messages will also be sent to the school authorities.
“This technology will give peace of mind not only to the parents but also to us,” said Shrivastava, adding parents had been consulted with regard to the scheme and they had given positive feedback.
“Parents were favourable with the system because ultimately it means security and safety for the students,” he said, adding he could see that other schools could adopt it in the future.
Sunil Nair, iNet manager, said the application software displays not only a real-time view of the location of the bus but also the student inside the bus at any point in time.
“The system can be configured and could be converted into a smart card in the future to have other functions,” Nair explained, adding RFID readers could be installed in other locations in the school as needed to further ensure the safety of students.
He also said the text messages would be very specific. For instance, if a child is still inside the bus five minutes after the vehicle’s engine is turned off, a text message will be sent to the school authorities.
ACTS will be introduced in a phased manner and once BPS opens in September it will launch Phase 1, which will cover KG I, KG II, Class I and Class II students.