New tech could track Orange Co. students on school buses

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Orange County school students taking the bus back to school Monday will have new safety measures protecting them.

Eyewitness News learned there's new technology to make sure children arrive where they should.

The idea is to track every child boarding a bus by having them swipe their school-issued ID card.

"They'll slide it as they go by and you heard the beep when it happens. It will register whether they belong on the bus or not," Bill Wen, OCPS transportation services senior administrator said.

The technology is part of a pilot program installed on 14 buses.

Students swipe or tap every time they get on or off so drivers know whether the child is on the right bus and gets off at the right stop.

"We will also experience where a child didn't go home right away because they went home with friends to play a video game, or to do something, and the parent's not aware of it. So we get the frantic phone call, 'My child hasn't come home yet.' With this new technology, we'll be able to narrow down where and when that child got off," Wen said.

It even has the capability to send text messages straight to parents' phones so they can know exactly when their child got to school or was dropped off at home.

That function won't be used right away.

But the possibility got rave reviews from parents.

"If they're not able to get on the right bus and we don't know where they are, the ID card can probably prevent that from happening," parent Melissa Neal said.

The devices cost from $400 to $1,800 dollars apiece. There are more than 900 buses in Orange County's school fleet, so it's a lot of cash, but officials say they'll see how the program goes to determine whether to take the plunge.