AP NEWS

Gering, Scottsbluff school districts to launch app to track school buses.

March 29, 2019

GERING — Families will soon be able to track their child’s journey to and from school using an app that tracks school buses in real-time.

Bryan Flansburg with First Student unveiled a new GPS tracking system and app Thursday at the Gering Public Schools media day. He said the FirstView app communicates with the GPS units on the buses and provides parents estimated arrival times as well as timestamps when their child’s bus arrives at school and departs from school.

“It has push notifications, so what that means is if a parent wants to know five minutes before the bus gets to their bus stop, they can put it in their phone and it will push a message to them saying the bus is on its way,” he said.

At each bus stop there will be a locater, so the GPS knows how long it will take to get from one stop to the next.

The FirstView app comes with a district dashboard that allows the district to send district-wide service alerts when issues arise with a bus, weather impacts routes and service and if the bus is running late. The centralized operation also allows the district to view the routes associated with each school, see how many registered users follow each bus and view the buses locations in real time. While the district will be able to view the bus routes and locations across the district, each school administrative staff will also have access to bus information for their school.

“With the snow days we just had, we could have sent messages just on the routes to let them know that the bus is not coming up because of a snow day or it’s delayed because of a mechanical breakdown,” said Flansburg. “It’s really a unique opportunity for the school districts to be able to have the parents actually know where the kids are.”

Flansburg added that FirstView is working to implement bus tracking for activities, which would be an addition to the current system. As FirstView engineers work to set up that feature, Flansburg will test the current system’s capabilities to track activities by creating a separate label.

“In the meantime, we’re going to try to work with what we have to see if we can figure out how to track it in the current system by adding a route that’s going to be called basketball and then add the players into that route,” he said.

Gering’s Business Manager Tim Meisner said the new GPS system is tentatively set to be available to the families on April 18. The FirstView app will launch simultaneously for Scottsbluff and Gering public schools.

The app is available in the app store and translates information in English, Spanish and French.

“I think this is a great opportunity for both Scottsbluff and Gering to step forward into the century that is all app-based.”