Horry County Schools installs hundreds of high-definition bus cameras

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County School District is in the process of installing 216 new, high-definition cameras on several of its school buses.

Currently, buses are on a two-camera system, which means both cameras are in the front of the bus. One shows the students and the other shows the driver and the front door, but the video quality is poor.

“You can’t really see on the old cameras,” said Transportation Director for Horry County Schools, Jim Wright.

The new technology, which cost the district over $400,000, will update the buses to a six-camera system with HD resolution. It features cameras in the front, middle, and back of the bus, as well as a camera looking out the front window.

“Our new system, we can zoom in into each area to really find out what’s going on,” says Wright. “So we can make sure we’re protecting our children riding our school bus.”

The cameras will provide a timestamp, GPS coordination, and speed of the bus at all locations.

“So when we get the calls that this bus was speeding in this neighborhood, we can actually pull it up and see. It gives us a GPS map exactly where the bus is,” adds Wright.

Wright also said it takes a long time to review video when an incident occurs on the old system.

“If the driver didn’t see exactly when it was, we have to sit there and watch two hours of video to find out when did the incident take place on the school bus,” Wright explains.

The new system has an alert button feature which allows the driver to identify the time an incident happened.

“It marks the video and does a 10-minute clip,” describes Wright. “So when we’re ready to see the video we can go straight to that, find out what’s going on and make it more efficient and get the information to the school administration a lot quicker.”

Vickie Fuller has been driving buses for Horry County schools for 27 years and her bus was the first to receive the newest set of cameras.

“They are great,” expresses Fuller. “It benefits the drivers as well as the students. In case the driver needs something to help them out like vehicles passing our stop arms. It’ll help us a whole lot.”

Wright said he thinks the best part is the reduction of engine noise.

“On the old system you really heard a lot of engine noise when you try to view the video and you only had two cameras both the microphones were in the front of the school bus,” Wright confirms. “Now they’re scattered out. Each one has their own microphone, so you can hear the conversation and see if it’s appropriate or not.”

Cameras have already been put on Conway, Carolina Forest, and Loris buses. The district is currently putting in the cameras on North Myrtle Beach buses and then will head to Green Sea and then Aynor.

Wright said they aren’t putting the newest set on Socastee and Myrtle Beach buses because they already have a new, four-camera system.

By the end of the summer, every bus in the county will have at least a four-camera system.

Below is an overview of the new and old systems:

Old

  • Only a 2 camera system (service door and front-to-back view)
  • No ability to blur students not involved in incidents
  • No zoom capabilities (low resolution 480px)
  • Limited room for expansion of additional cameras
  • Requires special hardware to read video after downloading
  • Single microphone

New

  • 6 cameras (up to 12)
  • HD resolution (720 to 1080px)
  • Provides timestamp, GPS coordinate, and speed at all locations
  • Easier to identify incident, via event button
  • Multiple screens in a single view
  • Faster download of  video
  • Ability to expand into automatic vehicle location