School Districts Use In-Vehicle Networking to Improve Learning, Safety

School Bus WiFi

Education Expands Use of 4G LTE

The ability of public sector organizations to cost-effectively serve constituents increasingly depends on reliable connectivity — and education is no exception. School districts are finding innovative ways to use scalable, secure 4G LTE solutions to improve off-campus learning.

In this three-part series, we look at how K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities are using wireless network solutions to save money, provide more services to students, and increase safety both in school and on buses.

Diverse In-Vehicle Networking Needs of K-12 Education

Content Filtering Many of the applications that schools are using to improve K-12 education involve in-vehicle networking. Students need to be able to get online when riding the bus to and from school, to athletic or academic events, and on field trips. Always-on connectivity allows them to finish homework, check assignments, and see their latest test scores and grades. For example, one large district in Texas spans such a large area — 3,643 square miles — that the district is providing students with the ability to maximize those extended daily bus rides.

As demand for highly available, cloud-managed in-vehicle networking grows, so does the need for best-in-breed security. Districts must ensure children cannot access inappropriate sites or inadvertently invite malicious attacks on the network. To achieve this goal, IT teams configure in-vehicle routers with content filtering.

Cloud Management — With time and money often tight, these school districts also need a cloud management solution to remotely configure, monitor, and manage in-vehicle networks. Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager enables IT teams to manage hundreds or even thousands of devices from one central location. Robust analytics provide real-time reporting regarding performance, data usage, and costs.

Student Safety — Along with secure WiFi access, the physical safety of students riding the bus is a key concern. CCTV cameras help districts monitor student behavior to prevent bullying and other issues. Some districts also monitor and record bus driver behavior, vehicle accidents, and illegal or unsafe driving by other motorists.

Emerging wireless On-board Diagnostic Systems (OBD II) allow school maintenance personnel to remotely monitor the condition of each vehicle’s engine and drive train. They also can use OBD II to monitor the way their vehicles are being utilized. If a bus driver displays a pattern of applying the brakes or accelerator too hard, that information is now available.

Cost-Effective Applications — School districts across the country operate within tight budgets, which means administrators and IT departments always are looking for applications and processes that save time and money.

The elimination of multiple embedded systems is one way districts are aiding their budgets. For example, a school vehicle serving students with special needs can deploy a comprehensive 4G LTE solution that keeps several mission-critical applications connected. Many paratransit buses come equipped with security cameras and DVRs to monitor student behavior; tablets to help drivers navigate to students' medical appointments; and, in some cases, RFID tags and scanners to keep track of students.

Districts can keep multi-application buses as cost-effective as possible through Cradlepoint's ruggedized routing solutions, which feature multi-carrier 4G LTE support with dual SIM capability.

Next: Bringing Wireless ROI inside

As school districts expand their use of in-vehicle mobile networks, many also are finding new uses for WiFi inside schools and even at students’ homes. We’ll talk more about this in Part 2 of this series.