School-bus pickups in New York City are about to get smarter, thanks to Israeli-founded mobility startup Via.
The company’s “Via for Schools” system was selected by the New York City Department of Education to automate school-bus routing.
Via’s algorithms optimize which route a bus should travel and can update routes based on real-time data such as street closures and traffic, making operations more efficient and less expensive.
Via’s system for schools also includes a mobile app for parents and students that lets them know when their bus will arrive. That’s similar to the service offered by fellow Israeli mobility app Moovit, which displays where a public transportation vehicle is on its route based on precise GPS tracking.
Via CEO Daniel Ramot called the partnership “a new standard of excellence in school transportation.”
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza added that working with Via will help the Department of Education “get it right this year.”
There’s a lot to get right: the NYC Department of Education is the largest school district in the United States, transporting some 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes every day.
Via for Schools will know when to send a bus to a student’s home (for example, for special education and disabled students) and when students will meet at a central bus stop.
Launched in 2012 with headquarters in New York and R&D in Israel, Via’s initial model allowed taxi drivers to offer shared rides. In New York City, each ride is $5 plus tax, charged to the rider’s credit card via the app. The company based its idea on Israel’s “shared taxis” in Tel Aviv and to and from Ben-Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, company cofounder Oren Shoval told ISRAEL21c.
Via has since raised $387 million and added public transportation to its software offerings; the technology is now used in 50 markets across the world, including the Los Angeles Metro, Transport for London and Germany’s Berliner Verkehsbetriebe.
Via also has a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz to offer on-demand shared vans dubbed “ViaVans.”
A New York school district is investigating noose images labeled as ‘back to school necklaces’ in classroom
A Long Island, New York, school district is investigating reports that a picture of nooses labeled “back to school necklaces” was displayed in a middle school classroom.
Arthur Mackey Jr., a pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt, said he received the image — which is part of a larger collage reportedly displayed in a classroom — from a teacher in the school system. He posted it on Facebook and called on the school district to take action.
“When I heard about it I said that this is outrageous,” Mackey told CNN. “The majority of students are minority students, African-American and Hispanic. For the image to be on the wall … is totally unacceptable.”
In a statement, the Roosevelt School District said it is aware of the “inappropriate conduct” and investigating. The school district said it is unable to comment further, calling the incident a “personnel matter.”
“The Board of Education has zero tolerance for the display of racially offensive images,” the district’s statement said.
CNN has not confirmed who sent the photo to Mackey, who created and put up the poster nor how long it had been on display.
“It’s probably just a joke, it probably has nothing to do with African-Americans…. but at the same time, they could still draw that connection,” community member Savitri Lekhram told CNN affiliate News12 Long Island.
But Mackey says it is a “hate crime and racial discrimination,” for which those responsible should be punished.
More than half of the middle school’s population is Hispanic or Latino; about 45 percent is black or African American, according to the New York State Education Department.
Many people in the community are employed by schools in the district, Mackey said.
The district “cannot condone racism,” he said. “We have a great school superintendent, school board president and school board and we all believe in our hearts they are going to do the right thing.”
Mackey said as soon as he began spreading the word, he received an overwhelming response from fellow community members who wanted action taken against whomever put up the poster.
“I’m just glad my kids are out of there right now,” Yvette Hudson, from Roosevelt, told News12. “I was very upset about it.”
Police arrest man in bus stop incidents where students were approached
Officers from the Saginaw Police Department arrested a man they believe approached students at least four times while they were on bus stops awaiting transport to school.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Detective Sgt. Oscar Lopez announced that police arrested a 43-year-old man and charged him with accosting a child for immoral purposes.
The man’s name is being withheld pending arraignment.
The first incident occurred around 7:10 a.m. on Jan. 11 on Madison near North Bond, when a female student and her brother were walking separately from one another when an unknown man approached and tried to grab her. She ran to her brother and the subject fled.
On Jan. 15, shortly before 7 a.m. on North Bond near Reed, police say a female student was walking when an unknown male exited from a light-colored four-door vehicle and began to chase her. The student managed to get on the bus, according to Lopez.
Moments later on South Elm near Division, four female students were waiting for the bus when they observed a male standing across the street behind a tree. The girls deemed this to be suspicious and went back to one of their homes and notified a parent, according to Lopez.
The fourth incident occurred on Jan. 25 around 8 a.m. on Mackinaw near South Mason. Two female students were waiting at a bus stop when they observed a male make a lewd gesture as he drove past in a light-colored vehicle. The females walked away and he followed them. The subject drove past them again this time exposing his genitals, according to Gomez.
“Detective Phillip Graves worked tirelessly on this case following up on any and every lead,” said Lopez said. “Assistance from the public and good old fashion police work played a large role in tracking down this individual.”
Anyone with information on any of these incidents are urged to call Detective Graves at 989-759-1761.
Waterville man invents tool to help keep kids safe in the classroom
A man in Waterville has come up with a tool he says will keep kids safer in the classroom.
Ryan Bowman never thought he’d become an inventor, but he says he became one after seeing more and more school shootings.
“It really makes you as a parent nervous and you’re like. ‘I can’t be there with my kid at the school if something like this happens,’ because they’re unpredictable,” Bowman said.
He and his wife came up with the safety wedge.
He says he came up with it after seeing a woman post online about giving her nieces door stoppers to bring to school.
Knowing that wouldn’t keep an active shooter out, they designed the rubber wedges with a special design.
“It will actually fold up under itself preventing the door from being able to continuing to go and someone from barging in,” Bowman said.
Even while pulling on it, after it folded, the wedge wouldn’t budge.
Giving whoever put it there time to run, hide, or worst case scenario, fight.
The safety wedge is being manufactured in Maine. They’re now hoping through pre-orders they’ll be able to build a new mold to be able to make more than just one wedge at a time.
“Our mold we have right now is a one-cavity mold, so it can only make one at a time, we’re looking to get up to a four-cavity mold so four can be made at a time.
At $25 apiece, Bowman hopes it’s an inexpensive way to give parents peace of mind.
“My son does have one that he takes with him to school right now and just knowing that it’s there makes a big difference,” Bowman said.
A big difference he hopes nobody has to use.
If you’re interested in a safety wedge, click here.
They say they are taking pre-orders now and will be sending them out in April.
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