Large School Bus Camera Deployment

By Carlton Purvis, Published Oct 17, 2013, 12:00am EDT (Info+)

Surveillance cameras are increasingly becoming ubiquitous in buses, including school buses where bullying is a regular problem. In this note, we examine one school's district selection, pricing and decision process.

Background 

Alpine School district in Utah has started adding cameras to its bus fleet as part of a half million dollar project to equip its entire school bus fleet with surveillance cameras. School officials say bullying had been a growing problem on the buses over the last few years and the cameras are one of many parts of a larger anti-bullying campaign [link no longer available]. Read the full contract here

The school put out and RFP for the project earlier this year. The requirements below:

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What *** ****** ***Gatekeeper Systems Inc. [link no longer available], who specializes in transportation surveillance deployments,  won the contract. The school is paying around $1900 per bus. So far, 68 buses have been fitted with surveillance, with a goal to outfit all 265 buses within five years. One camera watches the outside of the bus and people going in and out while the other three would be focused on the interior. Some buses will be fitted with six. Here is a breakdown of the costs:

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Competitive *******

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Comments (8)

32gb sd card for 4 analog cameras recording 30fps - wonder how many days they are getting and if the cameras are recording continuosly with all the movement - $350 labor/bus seems low but maybe its an easy install but thats not our world although we have be tempted to bid on a project.

The little experience I had with school bus installs were similar. Labor fees are crazy low. It's not so much security integration work as mass installation. You have a few guys in a busyard, and they bang out installs one after the other, bus by bus. Also, it appeared to me a very low revenue, low profit area so I never found it appealing.

A price point of $1900 per bus with 3-4 installed cameras seems very challenging. I don't imagine they're using Mobotix! Also, I suspect the vehicle's constant motion will even further degrading the fairly limited storage capacity. I can imagine approaches to that problem, but they would require horsepower that, by itself, costs more than the per-bus target.

If it was Mobotix, that would be more like $1,900 per camera. Kidding but not by much...

That said, I am not surprised at all about that number. There's lots of 4 camera kits (even for mobile) that are not much more than $1,000.

Plus the margins are generally low because these school districts are buying in bulk, are (often/mostly) cheap, and there are a lot of bidders.

That said, I am not claiming that these are super high end systems. It's very basic surveillance.

This is interesting timing on this article, as we're currently quoting on a smaller (30-some to start) school bus project. I believe they're looking for 30 days' retention, but don't require a wireless conneciton, just the ability to bring a laptop onboard and plug it in to search the video. I don't know yet whether a covert installation is required, although I suspect not.

I know the retention level needed would probably be pushing it for SD, so I'm wondering what the thoughts would be toward VideoIQ for this purpose, with their onboard HDD storage?

I don't see how VideoIQ would be price competitive for a school bus.

Well, I don't know what their price point is like (yet), compared to separate camera and DVR.

I don't suppose it would take a HUGE amount of storage given that it's probably only going to be recording a total of 4-5 hours per day.

Price point of VideoIQ? It's not even close. A VideoIQ camera is ~$1,500 to $2,000 and also pretty big.

School buses are like mobile QSee kits. VideoIQ is an enterprise analytics offerings. It's reasonable price for higher end applications but not for school buses.

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