Not so long ago, buses that could automatically send mechanics real-time data that communicated service needs as well as vehicle and driver safety measurements remained locked in the imagination of technology visionaries and transportation industry daydreamers. Not anymore.
And, if those not-too-distant pipe dreams are now reality, what does the future hold for all this technology and the vaunted Internet of Things (IoT) when it comes to pupil transportation?
Shaping the future is where guys like GP Singh, CEO and founder of Naperville, Ill.-based ByteCurve, and Jamie Milne, an engagement manager in the IoT practice at St. Louis-headquartered World Wide Technology, come in.
Singh and Milne note that as fleet managers and other transportation pros leverage the massive amounts of data now at their fingertips, they'll continue to see the growing impact of a couple of technology code acronyms: SaaS and MaaS. SaaS is shorthand for Software as a Service. MaaS stands for Mobility as a Service. And, MaaS is entirely different than Mobile Back-end as a Service or MBaaS, which connects mobile applications to cloud computing services.
Milne uses the analogy of a laundry service when explaining SaaS. "You have a couple options to do your laundry. You can go to the laundromat, where you need to get quarters for the washing machine. Buy soap, put the laundry in the washer, leave for an hour and come back. Move the laundry to the dryer, put quarters in the dryer and wait for the wash to finish. Put quarters in the dryer and wait for the wash to finish. Put quarters in the dryer, come back in another hour and fold your clothes," Milne explained. "Or, you can go to a wash-and-fold and they hand you back a bag of clean, dry and neatly folded clothes. That costs you a little extra, but you don't need to worry about the details. That's what SaaS is. You don't need to worry about what's going on in the background."