Education Plus

A check at every stop

Ensuring safety putside the home Photo for Representation purposes only  

Unfortunately today, we live in a world wherein CCTV cameras in educational institutions and tracking apps in school buses are not only unavoidable but also preferred. A few years ago, these instruments would have been decried as surveillance. But with a growing crime rate, especially when it comes to crimes related to children, these tools seem urgent, let alone essential.

And so, on the IoT (Internet of Things) platform, one of the latest entrants is an app called Falcon designed by Purnatva, a technology solutions company headed by Vamsi Pottangi. This app helps to keep a tab on a child from the time he or she boards the school bus from home/school until he or she is picked up by an authorised guardian/school. “Say, a school has about 2,000 children and 30 school buses. There are a total of say 600 locations that the school buses cover. Logistically too, the volume of decisions to be made in this scenario is huge, especially if we look at it from the point of view of the school. Which child boards which bus? Sometimes the child may be getting dropped off at a different location from the one he or she was picked up in the morning. Who is coming to pick up the child? Can we be sure of their identity? This app helps to sort out these questions and helps the school as well as the parent to keep a check on their child,” says Ajay Prasad from Purnatva.

Each child is given a smart card with a Unique Identification Chip that helps register the child’s location at various points - once he or she leaves the school, when they board the bus etc. As soon as the child boards the bus, the parent gets an acknowledgement. The parent too has a similar card which again helps to ensure that the child is picked up by the right person. Apart from this, the driver of the school bus too is authorised by the app- his details too are similarly registered and Falcon also gives him the details of the children that are to board his bus and whether they are in the bus or not, explains Prasad. So far, Falcon is in use in 25 schools across cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

What about families that don’t have a smart phone? “We have an option of SMS alerts. The app can be accessed from a regular browser on a computer or a phone and we even have a vernacular language option to help drivers who are not comfortable with English,” explains Prasad. What Falcon also does is ensure an automated process of recording attendance, adds Prasad.

The team from Purnatva spent a few months in a school in Bangalore to develop the philosophy of the app, tweaking it according to the needs and concerns of schools and parents alike and eventually Falcon was born. “There are two ways to approach the issue of safety. One is a diagnostic safety solution which is what CCTV cameras do. They step in at a point when we are already facing an issue. Falcon falls into the prognostic safety solution category – it accumulates data and helps to detect possible loopholes in the process, keeping an eye on the child all the while. After all, there can be no compromise when it comes to the safety of our children,” says Prasad.

However, what about government school children? “We will not be able to introduce this in one or two government schools since the decisions regarding them are taken as a whole, as policy decisions. It will inevitably involve a backing from the government too. We, of course, are open to it,” says Prasad.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 9:57:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/A-check-at-every-stop/article14470793.ece

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