A lot of parents worry when their kids first start taking the school bus by themselves. What if they’re snatched from the bus stop? What if they get off at the wrong stop? What if the bus is hijacked? Well, while the Kidtrack system can’t keep any of those things from happening, it can at least keep track of which children are on which buses, and where.
Kidtrack was developed through a collaboration between Fujitsu Frontech North America, and IT/logistics company T&W Operations.
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When kids board or depart a Kidtrack-equipped bus, they take one second to scan their palm across one of Fujitsu’s biometric PalmSecure readers. The urethane-sealed device is “about the size of an ice cube,” and uses infrared light to image the unique vein pattern of their palm. It then establishes their identity by cross-referencing that pattern against a secure database of pre-registered users’ patterns. The illumination of a green or red LED lets the driver and passenger know whether or not the scan worked.
Initial registration reportedly takes less than one minute, and none of the scans require users to actually touch the device – so there’s no chance of getting cooties.
Once a boarding or departing rider’s palm has been scanned, that data is sent to a cloud-based server. Should that child go missing, authorized administrators can check the Kicktrack website to see when, where and if they did indeed catch the bus, where the bus is at the moment, along with when and where they got off. If the bus is in an accident, the system can be used to instantly provide a list of all passengers aboard at the time.
Data is also stored locally with the reader, in case it can’t access the cloud – a definite possibility in rural areas.