Logo for UniteGPS
UniteGPS logo

Imagine being able to convert every aspect of a student’s bus journey into cold-hard data accessible on a cloud-based network. In turn, this is where you’ll have constant access to the latest figures, whether that be gas mileage or attendance. We’re happy to say that this is a reality with the Crosswalk K-12 school transportation solution by UniteGPS.

What is the Crosswalk K-12 school transportation solution?

From Turn-by-Turn Direction to Fleet View in real-time, plus other adaptable features; our Crosswalk K-12 program is a customizable SaaS (Software as a Service) revolutionizing student bus travel.

As a multifaceted transit solution, there are multiple implementations available for partners to strategically utilize on Crosswalk K-12. To train substitute drivers, implement COVID-19 contact tracing, or even optimize routes, this technology is 100% adaptable to customers’ needs. To showcase the versatility, this blog will explain each feature paired with real-life relevant examples from a few of our affiliated schools. 

Taking center stage in Crosswalk K-12 is the iconic yellow school bus known oh so well across the United States. Equipped wit this School Transportation solution, these timeless vehicles become data-tracking machines with military-grade tablets mounted in front. This is where all of the data-driven magic happens, such as one of the best incentives for CrossWalk K-12 in today’s COVID world: student tracking.

Streamline attendance with student tracking

Tablet from Crosswalk school transportation solution
Example of tablet

On this tablet is where our program monitors and tallies attendance as part of student tracking. Each time pupils board or exit, their movement gets recorded onto the system. Specifically, students notify the system of their arrival or exit by scanning their RFID (radio-frequency identification) ID cards.

Since Unite GPS configures Crosswalk K-12 with school data, there is a virtual roster of students viewable on the tablet. Showing their ID card photos, the borders illuminate green whenever students swipe their card while entering and exiting. The driver can even tap the picture in case the student doesn’t have their card on hand to ensure accuracy.

In turn, this supports schools in their COVID-19 contact tracing efforts for the sake of quality reassurance.  For example, in case an infected student rode the bus, administrators can go into the system to know who exactly was exposed at any given time. Additionally, the student tracking feature is what prevents kids from going on the wrong bus.

For some, the term student tracking can insinuate constant monitoring, but that’s not the case. Partners like Marc Fink, the transportation director at Oregon School District in Wisconsin, can divulge more.

“We only know where students are at when they scan on or off the bus, there’s no GPS following their kids” says Fink, who had to quell students’ nerves about Crosswalk K-12 when they were removing RFI (radio-frequency identification) chips from their cards, preventing the system from collecting data.

“There’s no GPS following the students around or anything like that.”

While student tracking has been extremely beneficial for COVID contact tracing, below are other facets of the technology that both current and prospective customers can utilize to their full advantage! 

Real-time location with Fleet View

Fleet View in Crosswalk school transportation solution
Fleet View example

Under the umbrella of real-time location, built into our software is Fleet View with other AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) tools. These measure and record latitude, longitude, heading, speed, altitude, plus HDOP (Dilution of Precision) to ensure more accurate GPS readings through accessing better satellite readings that get updated every five seconds. Therefore, both drivers, dispatch and parents can view the real-time bus location. 

Keep in mind, though, that the ability to see the entire bus fleet really depends on the school district size. For example, partners can control access levels for parents to view the whereabouts of bus fleets. Entirely up to the school’s discretion, they decide if parents in larger school districts like St. Louis can only see their child’s bus. Meanwhile, parents in small towns like Lisbon Falls, Maine can typically view the entire fleet out on the road.

Support bus drivers with Turn-by-Turn

Since the mounted tablets contain pre-assigned routes showing the specific number of stops and students assigned to each one, substitute drivers have more tools for success through the Crosswalk K-12 school transportation solution. This includes Turn-by-Turn Directions indicating every stop throughout the route plus students assigned to each pick-up or drop-off location, which is especially useful if the substitute is unfamiliar with the route or certain area. 

Ever since the West Delaware School District integrated its system with Crosswalk K12, the drivers have embraced this new technology despite some potential learning curves.

“That’s the one thing: a lot of our drivers are retired and probably 75 percent of them are over 60 or 65, so trying to get them to use a tablet is quite a challenge,” said Renee Tibbott, the transportation secretary at West Delaware, stressing that certain drivers still prefer the old school paper system.

Strategize routes and bus stops with data

Another beneficial component of Crosswalk K-12 are the Route Optimization functionalities simplifying the life for transportation directors in busy school districts with accurate data. Matter of fact, UniteGPS personally works with schools to transfer current data streams into the GPS software.

First, the Crosswalk K-12 school transportation solution receives an advanced data feed from the school’s Information System (SIS). This contains students’ essential information ranging from address, school in attendance, bus stop arrival time, etc.

Following suit, Crosswalk K-12 software then plots the students together on a map that allows administrators to experiment. For example, specifying the necessary distance between bus stops and homes or adding more drop-off points along a route.

The number of bus stops often depends on how far students need to walk, so administrators can tweak parameters. In the end, transportation directors can make more efficient decisions in creating or subtracting bus routes and stops. Moreover, they can even create sub-groups on reduced capacity, like AM or PM groups. Mileage driven reports are also automatically uploaded into the cloud-based server.

Solve discrepancies with Route History

Route History in Crosswalk K-12
Route History

Incidents do occur in the real world, whether that be students wandering off or drivers having a mishap, such as speeding. To prevent further mishaps, UniteGPS has incorporated a useful Route History feature that helps administrators make potential “investigative” inquiries. 

Let’s say that a parent witnesses a bus speeding down the road and filed a complaint against the school district. In this event, officials can select the route in question and specify a time range to see exactly where the bus was exactly. Administrators can also see how fast the bus was going by viewing each of the five-second intervals on the map. 

Tibbott also tends to show substitute bus drivers the Route History feature on Crosswalk K-12 to reinforce where the buses have actually been going while running on a limited capacity throughout COVID.

“Some bus routes are without a fourth of their riders who aren’t riding right now because of COVID, so the route maps that we have aren’t accurate. So we can go back and look at the route history and say, okay, this is how they have been going for the last couple weeks. This makes it easier for the sub.”

The final result: less subjectivity and more data to prove the facts! Simply compare the planned route to the executed route and see where the driver digressed.

“There’s nothing that can happen speed wise or transportation wise that you won’t know,” says UniteGPS CEO Christopher Bunnel. 

User-friendly mobile web app

Phone app for Crosswalk solution
Example of Crosswalk K-12 web-based app

Another essential service that the Crosswalk K-12 school mobility solution provides is a mobile app to monitor buses. From a parental perspective, this real-time AVL technology brings a whole new level of transparency and confidence in parent-school-relations. That’s to say, parents can always be informed about the whereabouts of buses carrying their children.

Along those lines, Crosswalk K-12 can notify administrators of when a bus has arrived at the destination programmed by geofencing. What this means is that an administrator has designated an area to alert parents when the bus enters the parameters.

Effectively manage field trips and sanitations

Luckily for customers, UniteGPS streamlines school mobility even further by enabling schools to efficiently file field trip requests to the corresponding district over the system. As a result, the whole process from assigning the bus to finding a driver is automated with files conveniently saved in one place.