Katy ISD rolls out new SMART Tag ID cards to help families track their student bus riders

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
New SMART Tag ID cards aims to help bus riders have a smoother, safer ride
This year, Katy ISD is rolling out new technology to help make sure students get on the right bus and off at the right stop.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- As Katy ISD welcomes more than 92,000 students back to class on Wednesday, the district is also rolling out new technology focused on safety and security.

Starting this academic year, each bus rider will be required to have a SMART Tag ID card to make sure that students get on the right bus and off at the right stop.

The cards have a passive Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, chip containing a unique identification number.

It doesn't store a student's personal information or track them as they go about their day, according to the district. The only piece of information printed on the front of the SMART Tag is the student name.

Students scan that card on a tablet inside the bus when they enter and when they exit.

Along with the tablet, each bus is equipped with an RFID reader. The tablets also use GPS that report a bus' location and speed to school officials. For safety, drivers must be stopped in order for the tablet to work.

Parents can sign up for alerts, and learn a number of things, including when and where a student was picked up or dropped off, when the bus arrives, and when their child is 10-15 minutes away from their stop.

Even if a child loses or forgets their ID, they can still ride the bus because drivers can search the system for a student manually.

There's also an important feature to help ensure no students are left on the bus.

"If you pull up to a stop and it has 10 students that get off the bus, it's going to count down to one, and if you still have one student left on the bus, it'll give you the name of that student and you can look through the bus to see if they're still on the bus or not," said Roy Kloeber, Associate Director of Transportation.

Guardians can also view a student rider's activities for the entire school year.

Don't have a bus rider in your household? Parents can opt out of receiving notifications.

If the SMART Tag sounds familiar, the ID cards were developed by a privately-held Texas company, Secured Mobility, LLC, located in Georgetown, north of Austin. It's currently used by over 100 districts in the state.

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