In June 2007, a devastating tornado tore through the area of Fruitland, Grandview and Muscatine in eastern Iowa. It was at that point that Walter Crowder, director of technology for the Muscatine Community School District, realized the need for a reliable system to track his district’s school buses.
Crowder researched many systems and chose StreetTrek GPS for Motorola MOTOTRBO digital two-way radios. Communications Engineering Co., a Davenport, Iowa, Motorola dealer, teamed with StreetTrek Solutions to configure and install the system for the district.
“[StreetTrek] gave us hours of free technical support over the phone so we could get the programming down pat,” Crowder said. “The first day we used it, there were two installers, a salesman and a regional representative for Motorola all here . . . huddled around these monitors. We all wondered if it was going to work, and it just worked beautifully.”
The StreetTrek GPS software and MOTOTRBO radios connect all of Muscatine’s 36 school buses and five field-trip buses, as well as each maintenance vehicle, and monitor them all within a 40-mile radius as they travel the 31 bus routes and 255-square-mile district. Each bus has a base radio, or permanent radio, which will run for four hours if the district loses power, to provide district-wide communication.
In addition to enhancing safety, the tracking information StreetTrek GPS provides assists Crowder and his staff in streamlining bus routes; it also allows the district to monitor the speeds that the buses are driven throughout the day.
Crowder is able to access the StreetTrek system from his laptop, which he takes with him in his truck as he drives around the district or heads to an emergency. He said representatives from other school districts in the region have come to Muscatine to observe his system.
“GPS is getting high recommendations by Homeland Security,” Crowder said. “I suspect it may be mandated one day.”