School bus tracking system can be seen as a way to boost surveillance in the country.
A pilot programme that will allow parents to track the movement of their children while going to and from school onboard buses is being considered by the Ministry of Municipality’s Centre for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS), according to reports.
“Addressing the challenges in the movement of school buses, we launched a project gathering information from students and the movement of buses that drive them to schools,” Assistant Director of CGIS Amer Mohammed Al Humaidi told Qatar Radio.
“With the support of Geographic Information Systems, we redesigned the movement of buses and reached an excellent result,” Al Humaidi said, noting the move came after inspection of the data highlighted a need for change.
The project has been transferred to the Ministry of Transport for further development.
“Qatar’s school system does not operate in isolation from other aspects of Qatari society, and thus changes made must mesh with Qatar’s other concerns and priorities,” a 2012 study by Rand Corporation on Qatar’s School Transportation System wrote.
The report said implementation of relevant strategies will “require extensive coordination among the entities involved with school transportation in Qatar, including the Amiri Diwan, the Office of the Heir Apparent, the Supreme Education Council, school bus operators, schools in Qatar, the Urban Planning and Development Authority, the Public Works Authority, and the Traffic Police.”
“Parents will know whether the bus left school and when it will reach home and whether the student who left home reached school,” Al Humaidi explained.
Similarly, the school control room will also potentially have access to the tracking system .
“The Ministry of Municipality allocates plots of land for building schools at places. Today, the Ministry of Municipality is studying the areas through GIS to know the number of students and new-born babies in those areas with the help of the data provided by the Qatar Statistics Authority,” he said.
The involved authorities will look into the current capacity of existing schools facilities to accommodate new students.
Due to a demand in extending the surveillance arm in the country, “aerial survey for providing data and images due to huge urban development in the country and hosting of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the ministry will set up a separate section for aerial survey.
“The project already started. We purchased an aerial survey aircraft which will reach Qatar soon. We are also conducting aerial survey through unmanned aerial vehicles. We have a working team of Qatari employees and 12 drones which are being deployed as per the need to get the data quickly,” said Al Humaidi.
While previous aerial surveys took months to complete, the procedure is now finalised within a matter of weeks
As of 2012 surveys, it was found that 58 percent of students travel to school either by a parent or by a driver, while 38 percent of pupils are driven to school by school buses.
The survey notes some parents hesitate to allow their children to use school buses due to the length of travel time.
“Many parents surveyed for this study complained that the current school bus system takes an exorbitant amount of time to transport students relative to car travel.”
The new instalment of tracking systems for school buses, could allow parents to keep an eye on their children to ensure their safety even when the distance is long.