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In Denver’s School Buses, Bad Behavior Is Now Captured on Video

New system from 247 Security allows district to document disputes and streamlines transportation management

IN A DISTRICT THE SIZE OF DENVER’S, WHERE some 25,000 students get on and off buses every day, disputes involving kids, parents and drivers are a regular occurrence. Until recently, conflicting stories and unreliable witnesses made it difficult for administrators to resolve those disputes, some of which involved serious accusations. But now, thanks to a new initiative in which every bus is equipped with a video system, the district is able to quickly and easily determine an appropriate response to problems on its school buses.

“Unfortunately, in a district our size, accusations against drivers, students or even parents are a fact of life,” says Pauline Gervais, director of transportation for Denver Public Schools. “In the past we had a difficult time determining who was telling the truth. But now video is the key.”

"The whole 247 team has
been incredibly responsive."

Prior to the start of the 2007-08 school year, the district installed video surveillance systems in 250 of its school buses. Over coming years, Gervais said, the district will replace older video systems on the rest of its fl eet, another 100 vehicles. Th e vendor for the implementation is 247 Security, a Georgia-based company that specializes in video surveillance systems for school buses.

“Our goal was to fi nd a system where we would be able to capture audio as well as video,” Gervais said. “We also were looking for ease of use, and of course cost was a factor as well.”

Gervais said the district selected 247 Security because its system met all those criteria. “There are four cameras in each bus,” she explained, “and each one captures audio, so you can see and hear exactly what’s going on everywhere in the bus.” In addition to the four sound-equipped cameras—one monitors the driver and front door, two are placed mid-ship, one aimed forward and the other backward, and the fourth is in the rear of the bus pointed forward—each system also includes a secure hard-drive for storing the video.

Other features that Gervais said were important to the district included the drivers’ ability to instantly mark the video record when an event was occurring, and for administrators to easily download captured video on a flash drive for detailed review on an office computer.

Another important benefi t off ered by the 247 Security systems, Gervais said, is its use of infra-red technology to capture video at night. “We have lots of evening activities so we’re often transporting students at night,” she explained. “It’s important that we get clear pictures of any incidents that occur in those situations as well.”

Technicians from 247 Security assisted with the installation of the systems and helped with training, Gervais explained, and she added that the company has provided excellent post-sale support. “The follow-up has been excellent,” she said. “With such a large purchase there are bound to be glitches, with a piece of hardware failing here or there. But when that’s happened all we’ve done is call and a replacement is sent out immediately. The whole 247 team has been incredibly responsive.”

Meanwhile, the on-board video surveillance system is having the desired effect, Gervais reports. District administrators have been able to document instances of inappropriate behavior by students, drivers and parents, and in several cases the video record has enabled the district to refute false charges. She added that there is even evidence that the presence of the cameras alone may deter bad behavior, because students, parents and drivers all know their actions and words are being recorded. “These systems should be on every transportation director’s wish list,” Gervais said.

247 Security is now offering wireless transfer of video and location related data reporting (GPS) that can be added to the Denver fleet as required. This combination of video and mapped event reporting makes 247 Security video systems more complete management systems intended to make fleet management a little bit easier day to day.

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