School Bus-Cams Curb Bullying

SchoolBusNewsEskasoni, Nova Scotia — The all-seeing eye of a camera has stopped bullying in its tracks aboard a Cape Breton school bus.

“It seems to be curbing the behavior of students,” said Jeff Paul of the two small cameras recently installed on a school bus by a Dartmouth company, Nova Communications. Mr. Paul is Superintendent of Maintenance and Transportation with the Eskasoni School board, a board that transports 1,100 students on 16 buses within the native community on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton.

“The students are more well-behaved. They know they are being taped. It’s a deterrent to kids causing trouble,” he said.

Since late winter, the cameras have been quietly recording students as they enter the bus, walk its centre aisle, and find a seat. An 80-gig hard drive records 15 to 30 days of high-resolution images that are available for school board officials to review them in case of an incident. The Eskasoni camera, and three others in Membertou, are the first to be placed on school buses on the island.

So far there has not been an incident that needed to be reviewed, Mr. Paul said.

“This has been a pilot project, but the ways things are going, we are probably going to install more,” he said.

For expertise in bus-cams, the Eskasoni school board turned to Dartmouth-based Nova Communications, a leading provider of security and wireless communications. The company has also installed security cameras on transit buses in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Don Dickson, who heads Nova’s Sydney office, says the bus-cams also offer additional safety features for school buses.

“The cameras can be aimed at the highway to record cars that speed by,” he said. “They protect drivers against false claims, and they can even aid in cases of child abduction, by recording what is happening outside the bus.”

Buses can have as many as eight cameras with a hard drive hard wired into the body of the bus. The camera systems, from SEON Design, can be programmed to record information such speed, GPS tracking, and how often the doors are opened or the brakes are applied.