Technology continues to disrupt our world, and that can mean more opportunities for your contracting business. The school transportation industry is finally seeing the benefits of auto tech, because the public is demanding safer vehicles and more transparent organizations. School bus routing software is no exception. Historically, even the most robust routing and planning systems catered to a single school district. They were not specifically designed for distributed transportation operations, regional service providers, or contractors.
All that is changing. With the right functionality, your operation can use software to streamline your operation, share resources, and provide more service to more districts. In the simplest terms, the Multi-District Model (MDM) that we’ve built into our routing program, Traversa, allows large transportation service providers to manage operations at all of their locations or regions within a single instance of the software. That means all the data for multiple operations resides in a single database structure.
The Cook-Illinois Corporation has found Traversa MDM to be invaluable to their business. Clif Pierluissi, Director of Routing and Analytics for the company, described how Traversa MDM allows his staff to work more efficiently: “Anybody who’s worked for a contractor that services multiple contracts knows that, in the past, you had to keep those in separate buckets, so dispatchers and routers were constantly switching to different databases. Now with Traversa MDM everyone has what they need to stay focused, all in the same place.”
The key features of the Multi-District Model that help contractors like the Cook-Illinois Corporation include:
- Sharing Resources — Vehicles, employees, drivers, garages, maintenance parts, and even runs/routes can be shared by any district within your operation’s scope. Contractors often need to pool their resources to meet any given day’s workload, and have become used to managing the difficult logistics of this, but with MDM it doesn’t have to be difficult at all. “The way our company works, we share runs between sister companies,” explained Pierluissi. “We have districts that are close together and we share a lot between them. Traversa MDM is crucial in showing us where we overlap.” Moreover, MDM makes it easy to capture data on shared resources for reporting.
- Shared Maps — For contractors who work with districts in similar geographic areas, the ability to see all those clients in one map is crucial. Pierluissi explained how this feature has improved efficiency at Cook-Illinois Corporation: “In the past every database had its own map and each district was its own database, and we were maintaining a lot of maps of the exact same area. Every time you’d add something to the map, you’d have to make the same change over and over again. Now with Traversa we can work in one map, so when there’s a change you can make it once, and it’s wonderful. You don’t have that repetition of map updates.”
- Reporting/Viewing Information — Large operations with multiple subsidiaries can benefit from MDM by being able to run multiple comparisons that can help each location learn how the other is handling the workload successfully. The MDM model allows for per district, per region, or contractor-level analysis.
- State Entities — Due to budget constraints, many states now provide software to their transportation departments. In such cases, MDM allows the state to easily pull the information needed from multiple districts in order to prepare for the annual claim. Note that having a state-wide MDM system can eliminate the often-cumbersome process of each district creating its annual state reports. The report can be pulled directly from the data by the state, eliminating the need for districts to do it.
- Security — Working in the public sector requires necessary transparencies, yet certain information available to users could be sensitive or confidential. Traversa’s Multi-District Model takes this seriously, providing users with the ability to restrict access where appropriate. For example, user Bob may be restricted to District A, while user Alex can access only Districts B & C, and user Linda, as corporate manager, has access to all three districts. “We had a district that really wanted access — they wanted to be able to go into the software and open their runs and students, and we knew it wouldn’t work in our previous software,” explained Pierluissi. “We needed Traversa so that we could open up that district and get them what they wanted to see, and not worry about them viewing other students or routes with the shared data.”
- Web-Based – Programs like Traversa that run in a browser can also bring great value to any contractor. This allows you to share information instantly with your respective districts. With an unlimited user access and the ability to limit rights to read-only, Traversa allows our clients to segment resources, decide who sees what, and be proactive with communication.
MDM functionality creates a monumental shift in the philosophy, design and capabilities of multi-level transportation operations using software. This true enterprise-class transportation management solution is changing the entire game. “A corporation like us needs to be here as far as software is concerned. We can’t have all these separate, island databases,” said Pierluissi. “We currently run 75 districts on Traversa, and our plan is to eventually have one database holding all of our routes. It’s a cool future we’re looking at.”
Content contributions by Tyler Technologies’ Solutions Consultant Kim Rentner and Marketing Communications Manager Sara McGrath.