Sentinel fits Camera Systems to School Buses in Northern Ireland


Vehicle safety specialists Sentinel Systems has provided over 100 camera systems to six different bus builders as part of a new school bus project for the Northern Ireland Education Authority (NIEA).

This project is part of a multi-million pound, five-year plan to replace 50% of NIEA’s school bus fleet and maintain a school transport service that is high quality, safe and efficient.

The delays and challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in NIEA having a reduced timeframe for procuring this first batch of new buses. With the project approved in Q4 2020, over 100 vehicles needed to be procured by the end of the budget year in March 2021.

NIEA had been very satisfied with the performance and quality of video images delivered by Sentinel’s solutions supplied under previous procurement contracts, and were therefore confident in specifying Sentinel’s camera systems again.

The new buses and coaches ranged from 14 to 60 seaters, so the camera systems were specified to suit the size of each vehicle and the areas to be monitored.

The camera systems were installed in the new school buses to provide enhanced all-round exterior visibility for the safety of other road users. An interior camera system was also installed in each vehicle to monitor passenger safety and personal security, including a driver camera with audio.

Each system included a 7” AHD colour monitor positioned for safe driver viewing when manoeuvring, and a high-spec, eight-channel DVR featuring GPS for vehicle tracking on video playback.

The project involved Sentinel liaising with six separate bus-building companies to ensure the camera systems were delivered to align with each of their shifting schedules.

The camera systems were installed by a mix of Sentinel’s team and partners, with some of the bus builders also opting to install the systems themselves. For these, Sentinel provided comprehensive planning and technical support. This included the provision of in-depth installation guides and system operation instructions, backed up with live video calls as needed.

Installation elements such as cabling lengths and camera positioning involved detailed, effective communication, and the incorporation of technical advice from Sentinel into the bus builders’ technical drawings. In addition, all DVRs were factory set and pre-programmed to ensure conformity amongst the different bus builders, and to ensure efficient installation.

All vehicles were successfully fitted out with Sentinel’s vehicle safety system on schedule.

The fleet of new, high-spec buses is now in operation and safely transporting 3,500 children to school across Northern Ireland, having been well-received by drivers and pupils alike.  

Daniel Boulton, Operations Manager at Sentinel Systems explained further: “It was a privilege to have helped deliver the NIEA’s school bus procurement project, and to see our vehicle safety solutions in use on the buses. Thanks to great teamwork and communication between all parties involved, the installation of our systems ran smoothly across the multiple coach builders, and we’re delighted to see that the new school buses have already made such a positive difference.”

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