When an early season snowstorm struck earlier this week, parents in the Osseo Area School district had a new high tech tool available to help them track whether buses were running late.

MyOsseoBus is a web-based tool and mobile app the district formally launched Monday - just in time for first snow of the year.

In doing so, Osseo joins the growing list of metro-area schools that are using mobile technology to allow them to track school buses.

"It's a really nifty thing," said Barb Olson, the district's spokeswoman. "But we learned on Monday that we have to do more to tell parents how it works."

The tool can be accessed via school or district website. Owners of Apple or Android devices can tap into MyOsseoBus through a free, mobile app. By using the tool, parents will be able to tell if buses are running more than 10 minutes late or if bus service has been canceled because school has been canceled.

Earlier this year, Eastern Carver County Schools began using the web-based MyStop application which lets parents see up-to-date GPS information regarding school bus whereabouts. Burnsville-Eagan-Savage schools began using a similar tool at the beginning of  this school year.

The University of Minnesota also uses a GPS-based system to allow riders to track campus buses.