Page 14 - THE Journal, March/April 2019
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“People are surprisingly lax about their own security practices, but they are hypersensitive and concerned about giving data up around their children,” said Kelly Calhoun Williams,
a research vice president at Gartner. “There are complexities in the application of IoT for K-12 that is different than what the typical consumer wants. The presence of IoT is going to continue to increase in school environments and they will overcome sensitivity over time.”
While districts have shown an interest in making their schools more connected through IoT applications, the first area of deployment for many is making school buses into hubs for doing homework and increasing safety visibility for bus drivers.
Mechanics behind connected school buses
According to CoSN’s 2018-2019 Infrastructure Survey, 35 percent of school districts do not provide support for students without broadband access at home. To fill that gap, many school districts are exploring options to outfit school buses with WiFi hotspots to allow students to complete their homework in route to school, field trips or sporting events.
Missouri’s Raytown Quality Schools has found success with implementing WiFi on school buses, but they realized that barriers needed to be placed on the type of information that could be accessed almost immediately. On the first day of the district’s pilot, Kevin Easley, Raytown’s department of transportation director, found students consumed all of the data that his team had budgeted for entire month.
“We chose to allow students access the app store on their phones on the first day that Apple released an iOS update,” Easley said. “After we figured out why we burned through so much data, we took steps to limit the use of the network to things that are only educational.”
Now, students are able to get a seamless experience between using cellular network hotspots on their school buses and getting immediate connectivity through wireless networks as they enter school grounds. School bus drivers can also get advantages through the use of connected technology solutions.
Kajeet has developed a SmartBus solution that enables administrators to track buses through GPS, an RFID reader to track when students get on and off the bus and cameras to monitor student activity inside and outside the bus. Companies like Cradlepoint provide the network routers and the connectivity with companies such Verizon and AT&T to make the end-to-end connections.
With school districts gaining the ability to provide Chromebooks and tablets to students for school use, the need to provide connectivity outside the classroom becomes more paramount. Greenville County Schools, the largest school district in South Carolina, recognized that need and deployed WiFi hotspots to its entire 425 bus fleet to give students an additional 28,000 hours of instructional time.
“The WiFi on the buses creates an extension of the classroom. The students know exactly how to log on and can seamlessly continue their school work once on the bus,” said Bill Brown, executive director of Greenville’s education technology services. “Once WiFi is on the bus, it opens up a plethora of other capabilities and a whole new opportunity.”
Implementing IoT in practice
Other IoT solutions can help teachers and administrators inside and outside the classroom. CrisisGO is a platform that allows school staff to build a reliable line of communication through an app to manage public safety crises hosted through Amazon Web Services. The app enables teachers to set off alerts through a panic button, access school emergency plans and submit incident reports to school administrators.
“We are trying to make safety embedded into the daily life at schools and make it as ubiquitous as possible,” said Jim Spicuzza, chief product officer at CrisisGO. “It could be
a sensor that tells you that you have a carbon monoxide problem or a mechanism in the refrigerators in the cafeteria that lets you know about spoiled food. These kinds of IoT solutions are going to make everyone safer while getting embedded into everything that we already do.”

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