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GPS and Video Surveillance in School Buses

In Richmond County, Georgia, the  Board of Education wants to install GPS tracking devices and video cameras in the county’s school buses in an effort to make the bus routes safe–or safer–for children.

If installed, parents will be provided with accurate times for pick-up and drop-off, which will enable families to keep better track of their children. Some parents, however, feel that GPS trackers and video cameras may result in stalking and spying. While many parents feel that this new technology is a good idea, some parents feel that video cameras and  may lead to stalking and spying. The parents’ concern is two-fold; it’s unethical to “spy” on children, and they (parents) fear that others may be able to track their children in order to abduct them.

The school district takes a different point-of-view: The buses are state property, and according to Georgia law, schools are allowed to monitor their assets.

The cost of installing a system for the district will run in the range of $40,000; money that the district will have to raise if they wish to install two video cameras and one GPS unit on every bus, and will ask the Richmond County Board of Education to purchase the equipment for 128 buses.

According to WJBF-TV in Augusta, the district’s intent is to install a camera in the aisle and one in the front of the bus, monitoring activity on the bus on a consistent basis.

GPS trackers and cameras will operate when the bus is running, and drivers won’t be able access either piece of equipment,  “but school authorities will be able to view any recorded information at their discretion. The school has attempted to reassure parents by stating that the new equipment is being installed to increase efficiency, and that the school board is not interested in spying on students.”

The umbrella benefit is that bus drivers, responsible for keeping children safe, fall under the scrutiny of the district, ensuring that bus drivers “…are conducting themselves in a professional manner.” Corporations, like UPS, have used GPS trackers to ensure employees stay within company guidelines while using corporate assets.