Following last week’s molestation incident of a kindergarten child by school bus staff, parents worried for the safety of their children may soon find some relief in technology.  A city firm has developed an android-based monitoring software to track school buses and its young occupants, ensuring school-going children’s safety on their way to and from school.

The application, called Marsupial, developed by Sand River Technologies Pvt Ltd, comes after a 4-year-old girl was molested by a school bus attendant and driver last week, an incident which has left parents in fear for the safety of their kids who take the school bus.

Atul Joshi, chief executive officer and co-founder of the company, said, “The recent incident which happened in a school bus is a shame. A couple of such episodes happened earlier in Mumbai. So we thought of coming up with this product concept where we want every kid to be tracked. There are ample solutions in the market, but most of them are vehicle tracking system, and don’t necessarily track kids.”

He continued, “Through this system, we will have such a system in place where every kid in the bus will be tracked. Alerts will be sent to the parents on the pickup and drop of the child, who can also have a conversation with the parents in case of an emergency.”

Joshi said that currently, the project is in the trial stage. “As a pilot project, we are working with two city schools to make this a foolproof system,” he said.

The devices will be provided free of cost to the schools, and charges for the system will cost Rs 150-200 per student. There would be extra charges for advanced features such as being able to have a conversation with the child while they are commuting, or video surveillance of the bus.

The company claims it is in discussions with some schools in the city to float the safety system from the next academic year.
Archana Kale, a parent, said, “The recent incident have really put us in worry about our children while sending them to school by the buses, though we have good relations with the school bus drivers and attendants still we are afraid. Having such tracking system which will give us running update of our child is good and we hope it will certainly reduce our tension.”

‘Needs to be reliable’
Talking on the condition of anonymity, a city school’s principal told mid-day, “The safety of students while being driven to school and back home is very important and is a top priority even for school administration. No one can be trusted in this case, and only technology will work to keep watch in and outside the buses. This android system can be an ultimate solution to the safety issue. It needs to be made error-free and only then parents and schools can completely rely on it.”