When Disaster Strikes, Student Safety Relies on Communications


By Fatima Jalloh

It is important to not only assist first responders, but also those who support their vital efforts – including school personnel responsible for student safety. FirstNet®, Built with AT&T aims to do so with a nationwide wireless communications platform and ecosystem. In addition to first responders, that platform supports school business drivers, school resource officers, and administrators responsible for the districts’ emergency response. 

FirstNet® grew out of the devastating losses from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The attacks exposed glaring weaknesses in our country’s communications systems. Cell service was spotty and unreliable which inhibited first responders from communicating and relaying critical information.   

So, Congress established the First Responder Network Authority and charged it with building a nationwide wireless communications network built with and for public safety. The First Responder Network Authority contracted with AT&T to build and deliver this innovative ecosystem. And FirstNet was born.

In the event of a crisis or disaster on or around the school bus, a turnkey fleet management solution – such as Fleet Complete for FirstNet – can provide fleet managers and school bus drivers with unique abilities:

A driver panic button allows drivers to quickly alert stakeholders of an emergency on board, while front/back door and stop sensors can log every time the door is opened and closed and the times and locations where the driver engages the stop-arm and lights. A bi-directional camera monitors and records GPS and time-stamped instances of aggressive driving behavior

Automatic vehicle location is also critical in the event of an emergency. For FirstNet, a GPS Fleet Tracker MGS800 captures vehicle location, engine hours, fuel consumption, and data from additional sensors.

The real difference-maker is Push-to-Talk, which help drivers communicate in near real-time with multiple drivers in the field from one screen. FirstNet allows public safety to uplift critical users such as qualified school personnel to priority status in crisis situations. So you and your team can stay connected with the voice, text, data and video services you need.  

It provides prioritized access – never competing with commercial traffic – and the FirstNet Core is monitored 24/7 by a dedicated Security Operations Center. This covers more than 2.81 million square miles of coverage across the country (50,000+ square miles more than the largest commercial networks) and unthrottled connectivity across the FirstNet network anywhere in the country.

When disaster strikes, make sure your buses are equipped with the right tools to support first responders AND your own pupil transportation network.

Fatima Jalloh is marketing – lead channel manager for FirstNet®, Built with AT&T. Visit https://www.firstnet.com/industry-solutions/fleet-transportation.html to learn more about Fleet Complete and FirstNet and to get started.