Magnasoft, a Bangalore based GIS company founded in 2000, has launched, Northstar, a tracking service which can be installed in school buses for administrators and parents to monitor the safety of the children. Parents can track their children via text, where they get messages telling them the estimated time of arrival of the bus at the designated stop.

The main features of the service are:
– Web-based tracking, monitoring, alerting and reporting
– A school bus black box which tells the administrator if there are tampering attempts
– A manned “Command Center” that monitors school buses and children during schools hours
– Instant alerts of times of arrival, delays, accidents, breakdowns over 5-second SMSs
– Automatic voice call alerts of times of arrival
– Live video of the inside of school buses to monitor children and drivers
– Automatic attendance RFID swipe check both inside the bus and at school gates
– Integration with third party school management systems

Northstar has also launched  a mobile application on the Android platform so that parents can see exactly where their children are, upto an accuracy of around 10 metres. The parent can see the child’s bus location and the estimated time of arrival to an accuracy of a few minutes.

The main features of the application are:

  • Simple login using number
  • Permission based access to child’s bus location and estimated time of arrival
  • Map view showing street level detail, if available

If the user doesn’t have an Android application, bus number and estimated time of arrival are sent as text alerts over SMS.

How does the service work?

Vehicle tracking systems, designed by Magnasoft and sourced from China, are fitted in every bus. These devices are linked with a Swipe card machine and an internal camera which streams to Magnasoft’s servers. These are provided to each school administrator, who can observe the movements within the bus via the camera. The analytics gained from tracking the bus, which according to the company, accounts to nearly three years of data, enables the system to provide estimated time of arrival, depending on the driver and the time of day.

Deployments

Currently, Magnasoft claims that it has deployed Northstar for around 75 schools, in North (Chandigarh, Delhi and Haryana) and South India. The company is funded by Global Technology Ventures, part of the Sivan Securities Group, which also comprises of Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company (Coffee Day).

What is the competition like?

Being an untapped market, the competition currently consists of Logica (recently acquired by CGI), Tata Docomo’s fleet tracking division, Navi-Mumbai based Cosmicgate Technology and Chandigarh based Hi Tecpoint Technologies.

Another interesting product, is the child tracking device by Satguide which even gives users a Geo-fencing option, so they are even informed if the child goes outside a designated area.

What’s the potential?

Magnasoft already claims street level data of 300 cities, with complete road data for the entire country. The clincher, is the traffic data being collected, where, with three years of traffic data, Magnasoft already claims that they can give typical commute times per driver, with a deviation of a few minutes. Currently traffic data publicly available in India is limited to the metros, versus traffic data in countries such as the US, being easily available.