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Texas school district to issue smart tags for bus attendance

Beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 school year, New Caney Independent School District will be implementing a new electronic tracking system that monitor students’ attendance on buses, ensuring that they ride the correct bus and exit at the right stops.

The district is rolling out Secured Mobility’s SMART Tag, an electronic system that uses tablet computers – complete with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) reader, mobile connectivity and GPS – on each bus. SMART Tag uses off-the-shelf Android tablets on each school bus with GPS and NFC-reading capability, providing a cost-effective solution.

According to the East Montgomery County Observer, students will place their SMART ID cards on the tablet’s sensor as they board and depart their bus. Logging attendance in this way ensures that all students are accounted before and after their bus routes have been completed.

All students will receive a plastic SMART ID that resembles the ID card currently used by high school and middle school student in the district. The SMART tags will be issued at elementary schools during parent-teacher events.

No information is stored on the Student ID tag. According to Secured Mobility, the tags are manufactured with a 14-digit code that, when presented to the tablet RFID reader, pulls up the student information associated with that code.

Those within the New Caney Independent School District feel that new system has the potential to greatly increase student accountability, safety and security when riding buses. SMART IDs will be required each time children board and depart a bus.

The SMART Tag system also features a Parent Portal. Parents can sign up for “SMART Alert” to receive a text message or email at the end of the school day, providing a 10-15 minute notice telling them that their child is on the bus and nearing their bus stop.

Parents can access the portal from any device that has a Web browser. They can also add or remove authorized guardians to the system as well as keep an up-to-date list of persons who are authorized to pick up their child.

The system costs roughly $500 per bus, with an additional $1 per day per bus charge for Internet connection and $1 per SMART Tag student ID. Mounting the hardware adds an additional $60-$90 per bus depending on type of hardware chosen.

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