Following up with KMVD’s first phase of AIS 140 initiatives on implementing VTUs (Vehicle Tracking Units) in 18,000+ school buses across the state of Kerala, the department has already hurdled a few steps ahead by empanelling the devices and inspecting the registered agencies or franchisees (VTU vendors/GPS tracking service providers).
Notably, a few RTOs across Kerala have already conducted informative sessions with school managers to create awareness on the basic requirements, implementation process, empanelled VTUs and trusted vendors.
On August 31st 2018, the Transport Commissioner of Kerala, K. Padmakumar IPS, met with the VTU vendors (contact point for schools) to speed up the process.
Schools throughout Kerala state be notified and get the school bus tracking completed by November 1st 2018.
Following this, the KMVD is now nearing the completion of physical inspections of VTU vendors to ensure all the criteria have been met and that they can handle the installation and maintenance or support requests that get through to them.
As soon as this is done, KMVD will send a circular to all schools stating the mandatory implementation of the school bus tracking system.
Schools can now procure and install any empanelled VTUs (Vehicle tracking units) from the KMVD list to start with the implementation. The VTU list published is indeed a reflection of the mandatory requirements set forth by KMVD concerning AIS 140 standard.
The mandate clearly states that the list is for reference, but choosing a suitable device/VTU vendor is the school’s discretion. So, the first step for schools is to approach the preferred registered agency/franchisee (VTU vendors).
Process well explained in a few easy steps.1. Submit your KYC, Vehicle Registration Certificate (RC) and Mobile number to the VTU vendor/agency.
2. A qualified field engineer/automotive technician installs the VTU on your school bus.
3. To tag the vehicle to KMVD’s network, the agency feeds the vehicle data (Regn. number) and IMEI to the Suraksha Mitr portal.
4. The portal will then automatically fetch all the associated vehicle data from the KMVD servers based on the vehicle registration number.
Once the Agency matches and confirms the data on the Suraksha Mitr portal with the original Registration Certificate, they update the GPS device IMEI number and Embedded SIM number along with your contact number.
You’ll then receive an OTP, which needs to be updated by the agency on the Suraksha Mitr Portal.
The school bus’s location gets updated on the Suraksha Mitr portal, which has to be verified and confirmed by the agency yet again
Once confirmed, the agency validates the VTU installation. A vehicle tagging request is passed over to the Motor Vehicles Department.
Upon receiving the tag request, the agency will generate a Vehicle Tracking Installation Certificate with the validated vehicle information and a token number.
You (the school authority) will need to visit the nearest RTO with the Certificate, which will then be validated by the RTO officials using the token number (On the vehicle tracking installation certificate).
An RTO official shall then physically inspect the vehicle to verify if the VTU installation guidelines have been thoroughly followed. The location information is accurately shown on the KMVD portal.
If all looks fine, the RTO official will change the vehicle status to GPS Installed.
RTO officials finally certifies the School bus eligibility by signing and stamping the KMVD seal on your Vehicle Tracking Installation Certificate.
For improved safety and security of children, your school bus will be tracked and monitored continuously by the system.
And, the system will generate emergency alerts on scenarios viz., rash driving, accidents, panic requests etc., immediately to schools and the KMVD control centre.
Note: The vehicle tracking installation certificate comes with 1-year validity and needs to be renewed every year.
End of the day, the vehicle is yours, and you’re the one taking it to the authorities to validate its fitness and compliance with KMVD standards. If the test fails, you’ll have to start from scratch and redo the entire process yet again. So, by all means, you must know what’s happening and how’s it all done.
In addition to the basic tracking requirements, school buses must adhere to the KMVD guideline installation requirements.
During installation, one of the things that need to be primarily considered is how the VLT device must be mounted inside the school bus.
Section 5.3 in AIS 140 guidelines says, ‘The VLT system shall be mounted in a suitable location in such a way that it is not easily accessible/exposed to passengers’.
For school buses, the most feasible option to fit a device seems to be under the dashboard. The IMEI number of VTU should be displayed on the device casing (visible part) to be quickly identified during inspection or emergencies.
Give utmost care to the cabling during the VTU installation, properly shield the cable, leading to emergency push buttons.
Image courtesy: KMVD Guidelines to School bus tracking
The VTU should continuously be powered and not be detached or removed from the vehicle battery at any cost. All VTUs have LED signals that indicate the operational status.
KMVD, in its directive, states that the devices found faulty or tampered with should be reported to the VTU vendor or agency immediately so that the vendor register a complaint directly on the KMVD portal.
Any periodic service or school bus maintenance that requires VTU disconnection must be notified to your vendor in advance, which will also be acknowledged and recorded to the MVD system.
You can identify the faulty units as VTU comes with LED indications that denote the device’s functioning status.
The VTU vendor should respond to any reported issues within 48 hours and rectify the issues within 72 hours from reporting time.
Each school bus must be equipped with five panic buttons in total – 4 for passengers/students (Preferably, to be fitted on the vertical pillar above the window rail, below the luggage rack) and 1 for the driver (in an easily accessible location while driving or at any time).
The panic buzzer comes with glowing LEDs to indicate its functional status. Once pressed, the LED will start blinking, denoting a panic request being raised, and immediately the hooter begins to alarm.
The alarm will raise immediate emergency assistance requests to the school and the KMVD control room. Schools must inform the agency in advance of any periodic service or maintenance that requires the Panic button to be removed.
Hooters, to notify emergency events and over speeding, must be placed safely from easier access and should be loud enough to be audible to passengers in the school bus and those nearby (who are close to the vehicle).
It is mandatory to put up proper warning signs and disclaimers to the passengers to be aware of the to do’s and not to do’s. Say, for instance, ‘Equipped with KMVD Suraksha Mitr System’ stickers on back/front glasses, ‘Only for emergency use, misuse will be penalised‘ near to Emergency push buttons etc.
Once the installation is completed, no wires must be left exposed because it is considered a high safety breach, especially with children on board.
Schools should renew their school bus tracking subscription every year and claim a renewal certificate from the agency while appearing for the RTO/MVD CF test (Certificate of Fitness).
The subscription renewal certificate must contain the date of renewal and expiry (1 year from the date of renewal).
To ensure smooth execution and implementation of the plan, every VTU vendor will initially have four service points across the state viz., Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode.
The respective VTU vendor must acknowledge, record and respond in 48 hours to any issue schools raise regarding the overall school bus tracking functionality. They must also ensure that the reported problems have been rectified within 72 hours from reporting time.
Agencies must adhere to the VTU installation guidelines set forth by KMVD. Failure results in blacklisting or even cancellation of their license.
Your investment in a school bus tracking system should create value for the school and, at the same time, follow the KMVD’s guidelines so that utmost passenger safety is ensured at all levels.
It would be best to choose the right agency to work with, with a track record of providing timely support. In addition, your agency should be in a position to provide you with a school bus management platform to manage the whole school bus operation.
Note: Effective April 1, 2021, the government has made it mandatory to install IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System) supported AIS 140 devices.
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