EDULOG and the Wood County Schools of West Virginia Successfully Implement the State’s 911 Map and a Routing and Scheduling System
The Wood County Schools (WCS) of West Virginia and EDULOG worked together to successfully implement the district’s first routing and scheduling system (EDULOG.nt) and the state’s new 911 address map.
The WCS is comprised of more than 25 schools and has 13,000-plus students enrolled in its K-12 programs. Located on the Ohio River, the county is 377 square miles and is comprised of the city of Parkersburg and numerous unincorporated areas.
In 2002 the WCS invested in an EDULOG routing and scheduling solution, EDULOG.nt. During that same time period the state of West Virginia released a new 911 map that created address ranges that didn’t exist before, which had to be incorporated into the EDULOG system. Since the implementation of the software and the map-based attributes, the EDULOG system has proved to be a valuable asset to the district on a daily basis.
“We can’t live without it now,” said Bob Marlow, transportation coordinator for WCS. “We have gotten used to relying on it now and everyone in the transportation office—the routers, the secretary—all rely on EDULOG and access it daily.”
Implementing Routing and Scheduling; Incorporating the State’s New 911 Addressing
Prior to having the EDULOG system, the district had done all of the scheduling and routing of its buses manually. Using a printed document with the stops listed, the bus drivers would go out on the run and pick up the students at the specified stops. The process was both time consuming and prone to errors.
“Before we had EDULOG, we had a printed list,” said Angie Williams, a router at the WCS. “It was all done by hand and written out—it was very difficult.”
Seeking a more efficient way to run their transportation operation, in 2002 the WCS invested in EDULOG’s primary routing and scheduling system, EDULOG.nt. But there was one unique obstacle that had to be overcome: utilizing a newly state-created 911 map that had physical locations and geographic attributes in it. Across the United States government agencies have been updating 911 addresses, associating a physical location or other geographic attributes so first responders have exact locations for emergencies that reported from 911 calls.
In many parts of West Virginia, particularly in Wood County and other rural areas, most people didn’t have addresses associated with their phone numbers or physical locations. Essentially, the 911-based map gave everyone a numbered address. The U.S. Postal Service then notified residents and told them what their addresses were and the district then asked parents to update their addresses. The addresses were then entered into the district’s state-based student information system, the West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS), and after some time collecting the proper addresses and placing them into WVEIS it was determined that all the addresses were verified. The data was then updated into the EDULOG.nt system. Now, there was a physical address associated with each student and the subsequent addresses were brought into the EDULOG system.
“The previous superintendent couldn’t believe the way we accessed the information through WVEIS,” Marlow explained. “We had to go to three of four screens to access the information. It was time consuming and not efficient.”
Building Accurate Routes Using Portable Magellan GPS Devices and EDULOG’s AutoRunBuilder software
The next piece of the puzzle for implementing the EDULOG.nt system was to build the bus runs. Using three Magellan handheld GPS units, substitute bus drivers and substitute bus aides rode on bus routes and recorded each stop on the run using GPS coordinates obtained by the Magellan units. Not only was stop data collected, but also the bus paths, transfer times, and associated times in between each stop, among other specifics, were recorded.
At the end of each day the data from the Magellan units was sent to EDULOG. Using EDULOG’s AutoRunBuilder software the professionals at EDULOG imported that data from the GPS units into EDULOG.nt. AutoRunBuilder made exchanging the data easy; it was automatically and electronically transferred and integrated with the routing and scheduling software.
“I can input the address and find the closest stop to the area, and that has helped us tremendously,” Williams said. “This really helps us out when we have a question from parents on where a stop is too.”
With the runs now in the EDULOG.nt system, the district opened its window to creating a more efficient and accurate transportation operation. To boot, the EDULOG system makes it easy to relocate bus stops, create and change runs and routes, adjust pick-up, drop-off, and travel times. Additionally, the system features a large number of standard and custom reports–which are quite helpful to the WCS.
“EDULOG helps in our reports to the state,” Marlow said. “You can show ridership and then justify the need for ridership. When we need to, it makes us more aware of where we can eliminate stops.”
The EDULOG system also aided the district in incorporating an emergency call system. If there is a catsrophe or some kind of emergency, the WCS can easily identify what students in a specific area may be affected and then call to alert parents via a report.
WebSchoolAssistant to the Rescue
In 2006 the WCS licensed EDULOG’s WebSchoolAssistant (WSA) software. Getting information quickly and accurately to transportation professionals is the primary advantage of EDULOG’s products, and the WebSchoolAssistant software is no exception. This software, specifically designed for administrators, allows authorized personnel read-only access to most of the information that is stored in the EDULOG software database. Information is easily and quickly given to staffers, such as: geographic, student, transportation, school data, and reports in both graphic and text format.
“We can now answer questions from parents and from the school quickly, and we don’t have to do a lot of searching either,” Williams said. “The system also gives us the ability to find out who lives where and it gives us a location.”
The WSA software eliminates excess paperwork and is secure. Need to look up a passenger list for a bus? That’s no problem with the software, as it gives you the answers within seconds.
Continuation of Quality Service; Beginning of a Relationship
Once a product or service is sold, it begins the foundation of an ongoing customer-first relationship. EDULOG’s professionals are with you every step of the way: from the sale, to implementation, to training, and beyond. Ensuring that a customer’s needs are met is an integral part of the overall process. If you have been hesitant to invest in an EDULOG solution, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your position.
“EDULOG will work for anyone who wants it to work for them,” Marlow explained. “It’s nothing to overcome if you are willing to put the time into it. It works great, but you got to have someone committed to make it happen.”
Once the software is implemented and the users are trained, a customer service representative is assigned to the district to assist with any questions. EDULOG also has a support team that is always ready to assist our clientele, and the team works five days a week. There’s also an online forum, user groups based by states, continuing education opportunities, and free training webinars.
Executive Director of EDULOG’s Customer Ace Department, Shawna Knudson, elaborated on the importance of excellent customer service: “Our experience with the Wood County Schools is a great example of how we want our ACE (Advocacy, Care, Empowerment) department to work. Customer ACE is designed to enhance EDULOG’s support services through project management, client communication, and continuing education. We’ve been able to maintain close interaction with Marlow and the district from project phase to completion and beyond. We’re very pleased with how the Wood County Schools transportation department operates, and we look forward to many more years of partnership.”