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Wi-Fi RFID Keeps Campus Traffic Flowing

In a recent wireless LAN deployment, I spent time reviewing the logs and reports on Adtran's ProCloud service and observed numerous events occurring daily Monday through Friday and at certain times. You could say that what I spotted was a traffic pattern -- and not just in the sense of data, but vehicular, too. In other words, I could see onboard hotspots as well as driver or passenger smartphones as they drove by, stopped, and then exited the school grounds.

With this information in hand, I was encouraged to seek a WLAN solution for campus vehicle traffic.

Issue: Managing student drop-offs and pick-ups

Observation: Generally speaking, many grade school students are driven to and from school by their parents or caretakers, individually or in car pools. Congestion during these times can impact non-school local traffic, too. Traffic and safety are always top concerns during drop-off and pick-up, as I know having worked on numerous campus projects and having experienced the dreaded car lines as a parent.

Question: Could actionable data help minimize traffic and safety concerns?

Existing Processes: Drop-off and pick-up routines vary by school. At some schools, for example, a driver hangs a placard with a designated call number from the rearview mirror. As the driver reaches a designated spot, a staff member calls out the number over the campus radio (handheld push-to-talk) and the student or students move to the car line. At other schools, drivers park in car lanes, and pick up their students, and then leave in first-in, first-out order while staff members direct traffic. I've even seen a round robin -- and I don't mean a hunt group. In this case, parents drive through a traffic circle or pattern and one by one pick up their kids, then exit between incoming parents to get out of the loop.

You can find numerous other examples, as many school administrators and parents have applied creative measures for the greater good of handling the process safely. And this brings me back to my observation from the data in the ProCloud service console, which as you can see in the image below showed numerous vehicles with Bluetooth/Wi-Fi capability and, of course, a multitude of cellphones.

The location of each installed WAP for this campus is mapped to show proximity to roads, driveways, residences, and businesses, and these vehicle devices appear as rogue access points in the informational logs. In the report above, the "ADMIN" WAP is located in an office entrance parallel to the parking lot and drop-off/pick-up drive- through lane.

Enter a firm called School-Pass, which provides an arrival and dismissal management solution that gives parents a way to manage and communicate arrival and dismissal times to staff and teachers via their computers or smartphones. The School-Pass platform, available in cloud and premises versions, integrates RFID/toll tag and license plate identification, using RFID readers or automatic license-plate recognition cameras.

What's cool about School-Pass is that it attacks the "processes" that schools use to manage traffic, including for buses. When parents can't get to school on time, for example, they can use the School-Pass app to reschedule their pick-up times.

Adtran's ProCloud service provides useful data, and in this it that data led me to think about a few things besides signal penetration to blanket the campus with adequate coverage.

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