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May 24, 2017, 11:30 AM

2 Ways First Student Integrates GPS Data to Keep You In Control

The invention and mass adoption of GPS gives us better clarity and simplification; checking your smartphone is easier than finding a printed map or newspaper. First Student (as well as at School Bus Fleet) saw the potential of GPS-based fleet management systems near the turn of the millennium. Today, school bus operation is very different, thanks to GPS.

First Student started installing GPS on all our buses in 2007. We knew it would make us accountable for and solidify our performance, but also allow us to be innovators for our school district partners. For us, GPS mattered as more than just a navigation tool.


“Not only has First Student given us all this technology on the school buses — all of this has been done efficiently and with savings so that we can put money back into the classroom."
— Al Diamico, Buffalo Public School Director of Transportation

Over these last few months, we’ve talked about the positive impact GPS can have on your operation, but when you contract with a school transportation provider like First Student, you gain further insights through the help of a full team of experts. Let’s take a look at how First Student helps school districts enhance GPS data understanding to improve service AND safety:

Thanks to DriveSMART, more than half of our participating locations in North America have improved their fuel efficiency since the launch of the program.DriveSMART

Fleet-wide utilization of GPS, and its subsequent reporting, offers First Student visibility into service performance. Along with performance improvement metrics, our DriveSMART program records fuel efficiencies, speed events and excess idling situations. The tracking of these events improves air quality, gives us visibility into the safety of our buses on the road and reduces fuel consumption.

FOCUSing the DriveSMART Program

First Student’s proprietary First On-Board Component Utilization System (FOCUS™) ties together GPS and other operationally-based data. FOCUS™ processes the data, then reports it, pulling out efficiency opportunities, safety progress and service performance improvements.

Integrating the dispatching system and route data within FOCUS™ provides:

  • Real-time tracking of actual performance compared to goals and schedules;
  • A dashboard with alerts and computer-assisted support for proactive dispatching;
  • Ability to eliminate excess speeding and idling events;
  • Enhanced data capture for maintenance by engine diagnostic capabilities; and
  • Alerts to maintenance managers on any issues which could contribute to major mechanical problems.

We highlight specific opportunities through The Daily Dispatch report. Each location manager receives an automatically generated, weekly report focused on payroll, on-time-percentage, preventive maintenance schedules and various other operational goals. This report succinctly clarifies the location manager’s action items or driver acknowledgment opportunities.

Keeping You in Control of Transportation

We also provide our customers access to a similar FOCUS™ dashboard called CustomerFOCUS™. Within the dashboard, school districts have direct access to the comparative data revealing actual versus planned metrics in both replay and report formats.

This clarity holds us accountable to our service promises and keeps you in control of your transportation operation.

Discover FOCUS™

If you’re looking for ways to improve your GPS installation and integration, check out how First Student helped partner, School District of Waukesha, Wisconsin.