At a time where 100,000 children go missing each year, the Supreme Court took India’s state governments to task for their laxity in tracing the missing every year. According to the data in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), one child goes missing every eight minutes in the country and forty per cent of these children are never found again.
An initiative has been recently adopted to curb such traumatic situations in Kolkata. Five city schools have installed location-based tracking gadgets on buses to monitor them real time. A perfect device to address safety concerns en route to school and back, the system has become a hit among parents.
The smart bus tracking service operates through an integrated mechanism. The devices installed in school buses communicate with a high-end application server, which interprets the information real time and provides information on various security aspects like speeding, undue stops and route deviation.
“Not only can the movement of the bus be tracked online, SMS and e-mail alerts will be generated if the bus movement does not confirm to the schedule fed into the system,“ said head of a leading telecom company, that operates the tracking system. “Schools can also geo-fence and define any route so that the moment a bus deviates, an alert is sent out,“he added.
The service is currently subscribed by 2,000 schools in India and monitors buses on 20,000 routes in 10 cities.
In Kolkata, Modern High School, Indus Valley World School, Sri Sri Academy, Gems Akademia International School and Aryans School have subscribed to this service. Many other Kolkata-based schools are in talks with the service provider to similarly manage their transport. “There is pressure from parents who have learnt about the facility being provided by another school. To parents, safety of children is paramount,“said a teacher of a school that is keen to join the service.
Uttarsarathi Guha Majumdar, whose daughter Heeya studies in Class IV at Modern High School, is happy with the service. “We feel very secure. Both parents and school authorities can keep track of buses during the travel. We can also plan the pickups from the bus stop after school. I can drive down and pick up my daughter without wasting time waiting for the bus,“ he said. Sharbani Bose, whose daughter Tanisha studies in Class V, is also happy to be able to manage her schedule better rather than waste time at the bus stop. “I have another child who is not yet of school-going age. She has to be left with a maid when I go to pick up Tanisha. Earlier, to ensure that I wasn't late, I would leave early and had to wait for an hour because the bus was invariably late and I had no clue when it would arrive. Now, I set out for the bus stop as per its scheduled arrival time intimated by SMS,“ beamed Sharbani.