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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Road to safety: Schools opt for buses with high-tech security

Puja Pednekar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 23, 2013
First Published: 02:07 IST(23/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:09 IST(23/8/2013)

To make the ride safe for your child, many city schools incorporating the latest technology, ranging from closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) on board their buses, to enable parents and authorities to monitor the child’s safety.

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At Universal Schools in Tardeo, Borivli and Dahisar, a live security surveillance camera has been installed in 94 buses, making it one of the first schools in the city to have such an advanced tracking system.

The school has tied up with Airtel 3G for installing the surveillance system, which aids the GPS system in keeping a track on the exact location of the bus. A team monitors the activities of all the buses from the school.

Parents can also track the buses in real time on their mobile phones and computers. “They can track the exact location of their child and also receive updates about them. It will ease their stress to know their child is in safe hands,” said Jesus Lall, chairman & chief executive officer, Universal School at Tardeo

Recent incidents of molestation on board school buses, some of which were at the hands of the school bus attendants have prompted schools upgrade their security systems.  The state government had also come up with a new school bus policy.

The city’s big schools, such as Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu, CNM School at Vile Parle and Podar International Group of Schools, have also opted for surveillance systems offered in the school buses plied by the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA).

Apart from being fitted with CCTV cameras, buses have an alarm that will immediately alert the police during emergencies, said Vandana Lulla, director of Podar International Group of Schools.

“In foreign countries too, school buses are fitted with alarms, which, when sounded, inform the traffic police that there is trouble in the school bus. The police are also able to track the exact location of the bus,” she said.

SBOA, however, said these measures will not amount to much unless schools personally look into the antecedents and qualifications of bus drivers and attendants.

“Schools should not leave the recruitment of the staff to the bus contractor. They must personally check employees’ credentials. Not many do this,’’ said Anil Garg, president, SBOA, adding traffic authorities and schools must conduct regular training sessions for the staff members.

Experts said that parents, teachers and women attendants should accompany children in the bus.

“After the molestation incident inside the school bus, involving a child studying at a Juhu school, some parents were asked to accompany their child in the bus. This is the best way to keep an eye on the child’s safety,” said Jayant Jain, president, Forum For Fairness in Education, an NGO.

He said that parents should also try to ensure their child’s commute is not too long. “This is only possible if a child is admitted to the neighbourhood school. Unfortunately, many parents send children to schools far from their homes," said Jain.

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