Trials have recently begun for a new mobile app that allows parents to track their children while on school transport. Students will be provided with a ‘fob’ (a small electronic security device with built-in authentication protocols) that will send a signal to another device on the school bus or van that will notify the app when the child has embarked and disembarked.
The fob will be attached to the child’s school bag
The fob will also provide the Ministry for Education and Employment with the school transport attendance of said child. The attendance will be used to ensure that the child uses transport for a minimum of 75% of the school year. Students that do to reach that percentage will not be eligible for free school transport in the next school year.
Parents will receive a notification on their mobile app when their child has embarked onto their school van, as well as when they get off it. The app can also be used to submit any complaints regarding the fob to the Ministry. More information on this system can be found here.
Some students have expressed concern over this system
A student attending the state school currently undergoing the trial period for the fob system, claiming that they did not consent to this and that they eellike it is an invasion of privacy. The student also pointed out that students sometimes use their school bag for other activities, as well as occasionally not taking their usual bag with them to school. The student also noted that they feel it is not a wise decision to have the fob in the form of a removable keychain for younger students, while it is a non-detachable item for students in secondary school.
An alternative that the student proposed was implementing a system that made use of scannable cards, much like the tallinja cards, that can be scanned as soon as one is picked dup by the school van.
It is important to note however, that the fob is not a tracking system and does not include a GPS of any sort. The fob simply consists of a unique number (no other personal information such as age and name) that reacts with the device on the van. Therefore, it does not work unless with the fob and device are present. These concerns are understandable though, seeing as the manufacturer of the fobs does also specialise in tracking systems.