Orange County Public Schools test GPS tracking systems

Winter Park High students part of testing program

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County Public Schools transportation team is looking at ways to track students, and the buses they ride to and from school, with the latest in high-tech surveillance.

Systems from five vendors were brought in last September and were supposed to be reviewed for more than 90 days, but the pilot program has been extended.

Bill Wen, a senior administrator with the school district's transportation department, said all five vendors are still in the running.

The equipment looks like the tools a spy intelligence team might use: GPS tracking, video cameras and student ID cards equipped with radio frequency (RFID) chips designed to track the students, the drivers and the bus route.

"It has taken longer than anticipated as we (and the vendors) are finding that all programs are not created equal," Wen said. "Many are improving their products as we ask about certain features and reporting criteria."

Six students at Winter Park High School used the RFID cards, and the results were "positive and accurate."

All five vendors -- Trapeze, Tyler/Versatrans, Zonar/Edulog, SEON/US Computing and Synovia Solutions -- have been flexible with the expanded pilot testing programs.

Wen told Local 6 that the ID cards will tested on a larger scale "using the SEON/US computing and Synova Solutions' product soon."

Two vendors have a program that will allow individual schools to check on the location of their buses.

While the initial findings have been impressive, it's not clear if any of the systems can handle a school district as large as Orange County.

The testing has not provided enough data to determine a clear favorite in terms of what system would work best.

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