Cameras have been recording student and driver behavior on school buses for more than a decade, but if you still have some of that older technology on your bus it’s probably time to swap it out.
Anyone in school transportation knows that the school bus is not a friendly place for electronics. With the dust and dirt trucked in by the pitter-patter of 88 pairs of feet every day, twice a day, and the constant vibrations of a moving vehicle (can you say potholes?), even carefully engineered, high-quality mobile surveillance equipment has an optimum lifespan of around five years with proper maintenance.
Not sure if it’s time to upgrade your school bus camera systems? Here are a few telltale signs:
#1 – Two words: video cassette
If you have to remove a video cassette tape to view video, it is definitely time to upgrade. Never mind the hours it takes to rewind and fast-forward to find the right spot, the tape that gets stuck, or that annoying video reel sound – who even has a working VCR to view it?
#2 – You only have one camera view
Let me bring you in on a little secret. Kids figure out pretty quick where the camera gaps are. School bus camera systems are now capable of up to 13 camera views for a more complete picture of the entire bus. Then you don’t have to keep moving the problem kids to the front seat!
#3 – Your camera images are so foggy you need to draw a red circle around the area of interest
Camera lenses and recording resolution has come a long way – even in the last three years. Gone are the days of fuzzy, pixelated video. Today’s school bus camera systems are even capable of HD-quality recording.
#4 – Date & time-stamp – what’s that?
If you can’t even get a date and time-stamp on your video clips, then you are probably missing out on a whole bunch of other features that come standard with most modern bus video systems. GPS integration is one useful feature that comes to mind that can give your video footage rich context. Same goes for the ability to automatically download video over Wi-Fi and signal integration such as indicator lights, stop-arm, and wheelchair lift deployment.
#5 – The warranty period has expired
If the warranty period on your equipment has expired that means if anything breaks, it could cost you more to repair than to replace. And remember, vendors have warranty periods for a reason. The end of the warranty period usually signals the end of the time vendors are confident all components will work properly.
#6 – It came ‘factory-installed’ when the bus was delivered – twelve years ago!
Thanks to school transportation budget cuts, the average lifespan of a school bus has increased from eight to twelve years. Video systems don’t stand the same test of time, even with regular maintenance. As a rule of thumb, if your system is more than seven years old, it’s time to upgrade.
#7 – Your video system installation involved duct tape
Of course we’re kidding about the duct tape (although I have seen this in real life)! But any poorly installed system won’t stand the test of time– especially when it involves electronics on a moving vehicle. Sometimes the equipment was either not installed by professionals, or even worse, the system wasn’t designed to be used in a moving vehicle and won’t work for long.
#8 – It’s like watching a silent movie
Older camera systems either weren’t available with audio, or the poor sound quality makes it hard to understand what anyone is saying. Integrated microphones on newer cameras take care of this problem.
Even if your school bus camera systems aren’t ancient, if they are more than five years old you run the risk of one day having the uncomfortable conversation with a parent or school administrator about why the ‘video didn’t record’ that incident where little Johnny punched little Susie. Don’t put yourself in that position – put your bus camera systems on a regular technology refresh program.
Join the conversation on Facebook – what are your favorite telltale signs that your school bus camera system needs upgrading?
Marketing Communications Manager