Schools to save thousands every year on new alerts system developed by a Carlow man

Revolutionary SchoolAlert.ie system developed by Brendan Cunningham

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

news@carlowlive.ie

Carlow Carlow Carlow

School alert sample message

Schools across Carlow are set to save thousands of euro each year by using a new alerts system which offers a far more affordable "text a parent" solution and it's developed by a local man.

Irish firm SchoolAlerts.ie delivers alerts using well-known apps for free that totally eliminates costly SMS text message credits.

Several of the schools the company has already engaged with were spending an average €1,000 a year on texts but with the SchoolAlerts.ie flat fee of €299 per year (inclusive of VAT), it "is a fraction" of what schools were paying previously. 

Founder and tech expert, Brendan Cunningham, who grew up and lives in Leighlinbdridge, says www.SchoolAlerts.ie will eliminate the need for the nation’s 3,800 plus primary and secondary schools to rely solely on messaging systems that cost up to 7 cent per individual text.

"There are 56 schools in Carlow (44 primary, 12 secondary) serving over 12,000 pupils and SchoolAlerts.ie will work for all these schools. 

"Instead we send alerts to parents as push notifications using well-known smartphone apps such as Viber, Facebook Messenger and Telegram that parents are already familiar with."

He added: "These apps are often already installed on the parent’s phone, so there is no set up involved. It’s ideal for parents with children spread across several schools and the one account can effectively become the one-stop-shop for all school communications.

"Because push notifications do not cost us, they do not cost the school either. Instead of charging for individual alerts like SMS companies would, we charge a far smaller, annual flat fee for our service and schools.

"Schools operate the system like they would any messaging board and can send each message for free during the school year.

"Several of the schools we’ve engaged with were spending an average €1,000 a year on texts. Our flat fee (€299 per year inclusive of VAT) is a fraction of this.

"A shocking 87% of schools we surveyed see the cost of SMS texts as prohibitive and in many cases, they said they cannot afford to send all the messages that they would like,” Mr Cunningham added.

Schools who want to register can visit the Signup Page and enter their Roll Number.   Alerts can then be sent to the entire school, to individual classes or to individual parents in the event of an unexplained absence etc.

The school owns the database of parent contact information and the entire system is GDPR compliant.  All parents need to do once their school has signed up is register their phone number on the service website so the SchoolAlerts.ie team can independently verify that they are part of a school's contact list.

"If somebody tries to register on our site with a mobile that we do not recognise from a school's contact list, then they will not be allowed to sign up," he said. 

The new system also includes additional features which include creating interactive polls for parents on issues such as school tour venues, feedback, etc, as well as an option to link up with Met Eireann Orange and Red weather warnings which can be automatically forwarded to parents during storm season.

For more on the system, log on to www.SchoolAlerts.ie

How it works for schools

Schools who want to register can visit the Signup Page and enter their Roll Number.  Alerts can then be sent to the entire school, to individual classes or to individual parents in the event of an unexplained absence etc.

The school owns the database of parent contact information and therefore the school is the Data Controller. As service provider, SchoolAlerts.ie is nominated Data Processor for a defined series of tasks on behalf of the school.

Both parties need to have a signed GDPR "Controller:Processor Agreement" in place before SchoolAlerts.ie can offer schools this service.

There is no provision for SchoolAlerts.ie to store children's names in this system. They regard this as extremely high-risk data and it is not required for them to offer a solution to contact parents.