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Guest column ZPass helps district manage students

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 29th, 2013


UCSD #6 Transportation Supervisor

I would like to respond to the opinion on ZPass that was sent in last week by Mr. Jeff Nelson. I would like to clarify any misconceptions of the ZPass system on our school buses. RFID cards can be purchased to accomplish several different objectives. You can get ones that can only be read at a very close distance, or others that can be read at greater distances. What determines the distance is the frequency of the card. A low frequency card must be very close to the reader to be read, and the higher the frequency the greater the distance. The cards used in the ZPass system are the lowest frequency cards that we can purchase. Thus, these 125 kHz cards have a maximum read distance during ultimate conditions of one foot. Those who have seen them work know that you must be within an inch or two or they cannot be read. It is the power of the card that determines the distance that it can be read, not the reader. To help clarify how this works I will use the example of radio stations. If you are to try and listen to 940 AM KMER in Rawlins, you would have trouble. The radio station puts out a 240 watt signal during the day, and a 150 watt signal at night. It does not matter how nice or powerful the radio you have is, the signal simply will not go that far. However, if you wanted to listen to 1160 AM KSL radio at night you can easily hear it well into Nebraska because it is sent out at 50,000 watts of signal. Simply put the low frequency of the card makes it so that no one can sit outside a bus, residence or hotel room with a reader and locate your child. These cards are not capable of being read that far away.

Another concern that was mentioned was the “tracking” of our children. These cards can in no way track your child. It simply tells us where and when they either got on or off the bus. Say a child does decide to go to a friend’s house instead of home one day. We can find out where they got off the bus, but we have no way of “tracking” the student’s location once they get off. We cannot get a reader and ride around the block where they got off in an effort to locate them. We cannot get on the computer and locate them by following some beeping dot like some movie scene. We simply have the location and time they got off the bus. The card each student carries has no personal information imbedded in it. Their name is printed on the card, but would be of no more use to a predator than if they lost a coat with their name written in it. There is a number on the card that we simply assign to a student in our program.

I would personally like to invite anyone that has questions about ZPass to come and see what it is all about. Even if you are just curious and would like to learn more, please come by the bus barn, and I would be happy to show it to you. We are located just east of the LIS Gym.

For the complete article see the 01-25-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-25-2013 paper.

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