Back to school next week and the joys of the school run. Getting kids to school can be hard work at the best of times. We’re fortunate enough to live close to our school but often children and young adults with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) have to travel further afield.
Under UK law, city authorities are obliged to support this group by providing free transport to and from educational establishments (be that school or college) if they live further than 2 or 3 miles (it varies).
Currently SEND transport provision results in much logistical fun and games where transport is booked, parents or carers notified, and contingency situations responded to on a day-to-day basis.
The service is expensive, it’s common for taxis to transport a single student at a time, and provides little or no visibility to parents and carers. If a vehicle is late they often ring the establishment for an update on the vehicle location, information the establishment doesn’t have without in turn contacting the driver.
In June this year the European Union awarded us a Frontier Cities grant to address the problems of the high cost of provision and low visibility of the service by developing SEND-TO, a FI-WARE application for efficient and effective SEND transport provision.
SEND-TO collates requests and calculates the minimum number of vehicles required to fulfil the SEND commitment on any given day. It automates the majority of the administrative overhead; and enables parents or carers to track vehicles, give the driver specific instructions (in real-time if necessary), and setup automatic alerts e.g. when a vehicle is approaching.