Numerex and RTC keep school zone signs flashing for public safety
The industrial internet of things will be fully realized when seemingly dormant objects are brought to life with networks, sensors and data analytics. That’s why a case study, provided by the IoT M2M Council, on connected school “flashers” is as relevant as any other. RTC, a manufacturer of specific solutions for traffic signals and industrial applications, teamed with Numerex, to increase public safety around schools.
Adjusting to unexpected events
RTC has been helping students get to school safely since 1987. School districts across America use flashing warning-signals, known as “flashers” to school personnel, in school zones to alert drivers at times of the day when children will likely be present. Typically, school flasher time schedules are individually updated manually for every school by a school district employee. The times when they need to be on vary throughout the year based on the school calendar. If an unexpected early dismissal or weather event alters the schedule, then the flashers need to be updated with a hand-programmed schedule update, or switched on manually.
In order to ensure the safety of the students and to increase the efficiency for school administrators, RTC developed a solution that simultaneously and remotely updates the school flashers from a central traffic office in each district. There were other solutions proposed that either relied on pager technology, or a spectrum-radio, both those options would require a total rebuild of the signal infrastructure. Those alternate solutions either provided only a limited solution or were cost prohibitive and difficult to implement. In contrast, the cellular M2M solution, provided by RTC and powered by Numerex, offered both an economical and a simple-to-implement alternative that met the needs of the school districts.
A network, a solution, increased public safety
RTC developed software that communicates between the central traffic offices via cellular network to an embedded electronic device, the RTC AP22 Time Switch. In order to ensure constant connectivity, RTC partnered with Numerex to utilize the company’s multi-carrier network. Numerex also provided the device that allowed the Time Switch panel to communicate.
“We find that with cellular connectivity, communication is always improved,” said Mark Sampson, electrical engineer for RTC. “In addition, Numerex provides 24/7/365 support so the school systems never have to worry about their school zone warning flashers being disconnected, despite the harsh environments in which they operate.”
Why connect flashing lights?
The Numerex cellular solution, implemented over a 12 month time period in districts across the country, now offers the ability to send data back to the central traffic office, making school flashers worry free and labor efficient.
“The school systems we serve are now able to receive text or email alerts telling them when a bulb burns out or when the battery is failing,” said Ron Featherston, Vice President of RTC. “The connectivity provided by Numerex enables this real time communication for technicians to be dispatched for repair before any school children are put at risk.”
With over 2,000 devices currently in the field from Boston to San Francisco, RTC plans to expand by 1,000 to 3,000 devices per year.
“Working with a partner like Numerex who is able to provide both the device and reliable network connectivity enables us to deliver superior products and services to our clients,” said David Walker, President of RTC. “It makes all the difference.”