Rim to Install Cameras on School Buses

In an effort to reduce bullying and vandalism, the Rim of the World Unified School District will be installing surveillance systems on all active school buses used by the district.

“We feel, after research from other schools with cameras systems in their buses, that this will have a huge impact in a positive way for our district,” said Jennifer Kawell, the supervisor of transportation for the district. “Bullying will go down [and] students will be more accountable. A big cost to the district is seat vandalism on our buses. We feel this will reduce the cost significantly for the district by reducing the labor and materials to repair their seats. Charges will be directly charged to the parents/guardian for repairs.”

Not only does the district expect to save money that would otherwise be spent on vandalism, but it will have virtually no impact on this year’s budget. Though the total cost for the surveillance systems is over $90,000, Kawell said the money is coming from funds that weren’t spent last year.

A total of 29 surveillance systems are being purchased from Radio Engineering Inc. (REI). Each system consists of two or four cameras wide-angle, high-definition, color surveillance cameras and a Wi-Fi-ready digital video recorder (DVR). Twenty-two of the systems will have four cameras and be installed in Type I big buses, while six systems have two cameras and will be installed on Type II mini buses. These systems will cover every active bus in the district. One extra four-camera system was purchased in the event another bus becomes active.

According to the REI website, their mission is to design “professional grade electronics” intended to “move the transportation industry forward.”

The DVRs will be installed on each bus as well, though they will be locked in a cabinet to avoid tampering. The cameras on each bus provide a full view of the entire bus, even in between the seats. Though the cameras are in view of the students, the district anticipates knowing if any students tamper with the cameras themselves.

A press release from the district states that “each system’s Wi-Fi-ready DVR processes and saves the captured video footage…. The footage may be stored long-term, if desired, for proof of ongoing incidents.”

The cameras and DVRs are also accompanied by REI’s ARMOR Software Suite. The same press release from the district said that “when integrated with REI’s ARMOR Software Suite, the DVR’s Wi-Fi capability enables the captured footage to automatically transfer to the district’s server at preset times, [such as] when the bus is started or when it returns to the lot.”

Kawell said the cameras will be on and recording at all times during bus operation and will continue recording up to an hour after the bus is turned off. She said that the transportation supervisor and the IT director will be the only people with direct access to the recordings.

“If [footage] needs to be viewed by an administrator, they will go through us and the superintendent,” Kawell said.

No one will be viewing all the footage, but Kawell said “portions will be reviewed as necessary,” such as during or after an investigation about a particular incident. Kawell also said the bus drivers can press a button to flag the current video for reviewing.

“This will help us to mark the parts of the video footage to view so we don’t have to view the whole thing,” Kawell said.

“Rim of the World Unified School District currently has only a few cameras at school sites and none on our buses, so this will be an added layer of safety as we plan for increasing camera use and other safety measures across the district as our budget allows,” said Michelle Murphy, the district’s superintendent. “REI has been a true partner on all levels, providing competitive pricing and workable solutions for the entire project, thus allowing all buses to be equipped with surveillance. We are excited to bring new technology to our transportation department.”