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Toledo buses get surveilance upgrades

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Students riding on Toledo School District buses can look forward to an added level of security starting this year as officials report they are completing one phase and entering another to install cameras and sensors on all the busses.

The first phase began earlier this year and involved installing the new hardware in regular school buses, including more advanced surveillance cameras as well as sensors recording a timeline of information such as when brakes are applied, when turn signals are used, what the speed is, how much g-force is being exerted on the bus, and whether or not the bus has been in a collision.

This information will be synchronized with the video, officials stated, so a need to review surveillance during an accident will incorporate what is taking place with what has been recorded in video.

"I can’t even tell you how much time it’s going to save administrators when you have to investigate discipline," said Superintendent Sharon Bower, adding the cameras and sensors cannot be manipulated by either by drivers or students, except that drivers can mark on the timeline that an even in need of investigating has occurred.

The video software also has the ability to sensor students when public information requests are made, so officials can screen out any persons or activity unrelated to the request, protecting student identities and information.

"They [those requesting video] call people and tell them what other people’s kids are doing," said Bower. "Now, images can be blurred. So, the things we can do with this system to help protect our kids and our buses and—just everything—is going to be amazing."

The second phase, which received approval from Board members to start that night, is to equip the same cameras and sensors on special needs buses and other specialty vehicles, with the hope of having the entire fleet equipped.

The third phase, if the district is ever able to afford it, is to equip the cameras with wireless access, so officials and law enforcement will be able to view real-time video, when needed, of what is taking place on buses. There had been no indication of when this phase may be started, though the financial outlook of the project may improve as wireless technology becomes more affordable.

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