Northwest ISD families can track their students' buses with the new Secured Mobile Authorized Ridership Technology tag system.

Based on parent and guardian feedback, the district transitioned from Zonar to SMART tags this school year, according to a Northwest ISD news release.

Executive Director of Communications Anthony Tosie said district transportation leaders researched alternatives and spoke to other districts, finding the SMART Tag system received positive feedback in the districts where it's been implemented. He added during the final semester of the 2022-23 school year, the district piloted the SMART tag program with three elementary schools for two weeks.

“The SMART tag system was adopted as a direct result of feedback from our families,” Tosie said. “We appreciate the community's voice to help us make positive decisions to improve our services.”

The specifics

The SMART tag system works by tracking a tablet on a bus with real-time updates, the news release said. When a student boards a bus, they will scan their tag so the tablet assigns them to the bus for parents and guardians to track. This technology also ensures students board the appropriate bus as the system will indicate if a student has boarded the wrong bus.

According to the news release, for the start of the school year, drivers will manually log students into the system. During the first two weeks of school, campuses will distribute SMART tags to students. Once obtained, students should keep the SMART tag with them, such as on a lanyard or strapped to their backpack, to scan when boarding a bus.

Zooming in

Tosie said every bus in Northwest ISD and every school use the SMART Tag system. School administrators wrapped up the distribution of student SMART tags on Aug. 25. Tosie added SMART tags are funded through the district's regular operations budget, replacing the funding that went to the previous vendor.

What you need to know

According to the news release, parents and legal guardians can register an account on the district’s SMART Tag Parent Portal to monitor whether their child is on the bus as well as the bus’s real-time location. Users of the Parent Portal can also set notifications to alert them via text message when the bus is nearing their child’s stop.

To register for the SMART Tag Parent Portal, families need to have the following information handy:
  • Their child’s student ID number
  • Their child’s date of birth
  • The school their child attends
The district maintains a website that contains how-to videos and FAQs for more information.