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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Am Interested in Going Wireless, But What Do I Do With The Equipment I Already Have?

Touchdown, the wireless video and fleet data management solution offered by 247 Security Inc, has generated a lot of interest across the country.  For some, the implementation of this system has been simple, as they are first time users of 247 Security’s line of products and simply install all new DVRs, cameras and related equipment on their buses at the time that they implement Touchdown.  However, as a 247 Security Inc customer, you have already made the investment in our DVRs and cameras, maybe even a considerable time ago.  Those existing customers continually ask us if it would be necessary to buy all new vehicle equipment in order to implement the Touchdown wireless solution.  The answer is quite simple:  No, you do not have to replace your existing 247 Security Inc equipment to implement the Touchdown solution.

There are two simple ways that units that you have previously purchased can be upgraded to work with the wireless solution:

1.        Some customers may have purchased units that are already “wireless ready.”  Wireless ready means that they have a radio modem installed inside the DVR and  that unit just need to be reprogrammed (and possibly the firmware or other software upgraded) and add a external wireless antenna.

2.       Other units without the built in wifi modem, even dating back to the original mDVR400 units, can be simply upgraded to work with the wireless solution by adding a wireless bridge and some basic reprogramming.

Either way, if you already have 247 Security Inc equipment mounted on your fleet of vehicles, you would not have to replace that equipment and start all over.  Obviously, that would dramatically reduce the costs of the Touchdown system to your school district.

Existing customers would still need to purchase the wireless infrastructure (access points, computer/software that controls Touchdown) and would need to purchase any of the wireless bridges for units that are not wireless ready, but you wouldn’t have to replace the equipment that you already own.

For more information, contact your sales representative for a more detailed presentation of what Touchdown offers and for customized pricing of upgrading your existing equipment.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preventive Maintenance a Key to Reliability & Longevity

Throughout the pupil transportation industry, one of the most important aspects of keeping buses safe, reliable and able to be in service for as long as it is possible to do so is a good preventive maintenance program.  Each state has its own manner and method of completing these services, but the most common is having a bus inspected by qualified shop technicians once per month.  In many states, there are checklists or inspection sheets that must be completed with detailed information of what needs to be checked.   However, the best fleets, those recognized for the superior bus fleets all have one thing in common, and that is that they go above and beyond what is required to be inspected.

Why is it, then, that most of us within the industry don’t add one piece of equipment to the monthly inspection and preventive maintenance and it is one of the pieces of equipment that the school districts rely on for the safety and security of their students:  the video system installed on your buses?

Even at a time where every bus shop across the country is having to do more work with less time and resources, adding a preventive maintenance check of your video systems doesn’t add that much time, and the minimal time that it does require has been shown to increase the reliability of the video systems.  The following are some simple tips that you can incorporate into your monthly school bus maintenance program that will only add about 5 minutes per bus, but could save you hours of work down the road, thousands of dollars and an untold number of headaches.

Each month when a technician is checking a school bus, he should plug the laptop into the DVR and check for the following:

1.        Are the time and date set correctly?  If no, then a one touch synchronization button will match your time and date so that incidents can be investigated and resolved much more quickly.

2.       Do you have clear video and audio on all cameras?  The technicians can see the view from each camera and even hear the audio while the unit is connected to a laptop computer.

3.       Are all cameras aligned to provide maximum coverage for what your cameras are placed to see and record?  Students are notorious, and quite frankly pretty ingenious, when it comes to finding was to obscure what the camera sees.  While inspecting the unit and watching the live view of what the cameras are seeing, adjustments can be made to camera alignment to make sure you are seeing that view that helps keep our students safe aboard the buses.

4.       Are all of the settings set according to the original configuration as specified by the Director of Transportation to see everything that they need to see?

A physical inspection also needs to be performed each month once you have checked all of the items above.

5.       Inspect all visible wires and connections to the back of the unit for cuts, frays and any signs of tampering.  Loose connections are probably the number one source of lost video.

6.       Inspect and CLEAN the fan filter (if equipped on your unit).  A 15 second removing of the fan cover, cleaning of the filter and reinstallation is critical in keeping your DVR systems working and extending their life span.  If the filter is clogged, then the fan has no way of cooling itself and protecting the unit from overheating.  If there is only time for one thing to be done to the DVR, this is quite possibly the number one process that needs to be completed.

7.       Inspect for broken mounting screws and broken shock absorbing springs isolating the DVR unit from the mounting bracket.  Let’s face it, we are asking a computer system to operate in one of the harshest environments out there in the mobile electronics industry. 

You have to remember what your DVR is, it is a computer mounted inside a school bus, riding down the road each day.  Everyone needs to have or implement a system of monthly checks of these complex digital video solutions to make sure that it is working properly and protecting your students, your drivers, your department and your school system.

Just as you made the investment of resources to update your video systems by going digital, we must invest a little time and effort each month to make sure that your video systems are working for you.

Preventive maintenance is the key!

New Blog Entries - Coming Soon!

Coming soon, we will be adding many more articles and tips to Rick's corner.  We hope that you will continue to follow us as we attempt to provide you with some hints and tips that you will find useful in the administration of your fleet's video management program.

Stay tuned to Rick's Corner!