B.C. school district pilots app to track students who ride the bus

Parents and teachers in Merritt, B.C., will soon be able to track students as they get on and off the school bus, through an app. 

School district 58 has signed on with mTransport, a Montreal-based company that runs an app to monitor where the bus is and where and when students get on and off it.

Superintendent Steve McNiven said the main reason the district decided to test out the app as a pilot project was primarily to keep track of high school students who take a late bus, in order to participate in after school activities. 

Because the students taking that bus are inconsistent and voluntary, it’s difficult for the schools and parents to keep track of them. 

“This will definitely help improve the safety of that run,” McNiven told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. 

School District 58 Superintendent Steve McNiven says the mTransport app will help parents and school staff know where kids are in real-time. (Simone Chenoweth)

In addition, weather conditions throughout the area can be treacherous, and some rural students ride the bus for 45 minutes to get to school, so new technology will make communication between the school, bus drivers and parents easier. 

“This will help provide parents with instant notification,” McNiven said. 

“We want to make sure that our students are being picked up and are making it home safely. So this should really improve our communication and help our parents track our kids.”

Students will register using a QR code each time they board or leave the bus, and the driver uses their own app to indicate where the bus is. 

That information is sent to parents so they can know, in real-time, where their child is. 

McNiven said the school district has completed a privacy impact assessment, and the app will be hosted on a secure, encrypted Canadian website, so there are no concerns around privacy. 

The project is set to begin on March 30. At the end of the school year, the district will gather feedback from bus drivers, parents and students to determine whether the project will be implemented permanently.

Students in the Merritt area will soon have to check in as they get on and off buses as part of a new pilot project that’s coming to the school district. 6:23

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