Since launching, we have received lots of positive feedback from schools. A common thread is that schools was a full service demonstration. As a Kilkenny-based company we cannot call to every school so instead we put together a comprehensive video demonstration on SchoolAlerts.ie
Our video covers the set up stages, the GDPR implications, the pricing model and a full demonstration of the service in action. The video is geared towards secretaries and principals that are interesting in reducing their dependency on SMS text messaging and instead making use of free app notifications.
View Video Demonstration
SchoolAlerts.ie specializes in reducing your school's reliance on SMS text messaging. We link your parents to well-known smartphone apps such as Viber, Messenger or Telegram. Any parent that links up gets your messages for FREE. Sure, a small number may not own a smartphone and we fall back to SMS in this case, but the cost for these SMS is less that what you are currently spending. Take a look at this image from a SchoolAlerts.ie account, where a message was recently issued to 321 parents:
The total cost to send the school message to all 321 parents was just 88 cent! That's because the school has almost all their parents linked up to a smartphone app through SchoolAlerts.ie. Only 19 parents have yet to link up and these are the only messages that a school needs to pay for.
Lets compare this with an SMS Texting Provider
Depending on the SMS provider, a text message costs in an around 5 cent per message. With 321 parents, this works out as follows:
- SMS Provider = 321 * €0.05 + VAT= €19.74
- SchoolAlerts.ie cost = 19 SMS Subcribers * €0.038 + VAT = €0.88
- SchoolAlerts.ie app cost = 302 recipients go free!
- TOTAL SAVING FOR ONE ALERT TO PARENTS: €18.86
Now consider the savings you would make over an entire school year with this new approach to parent communications. Any school that has moved to SchoolAlerts.ie has immediately noticed huge cost savings. It's quick to set up and we do most of the set up work. With Winter upon us, now is a great time to consider switching to SchoolAlerts.ie to avail of this modern business model that saves money for your school throughout the year.
Register for a School Account Now
SchoolAlerts.ie is proud to be a main sponsor of the 2018 World Coder Dojo conference that is taking place on our doorstep at Kilkenny City this year! Dojocon 2018 takes place from October 19th-21st at the Newpark Hotel.
To book your tickets for Dojocon 2018 please visit http://dojocon.coderdojo.com. We have some cool hand outs available for each attendee so take a look in your bag when you getto the event!
Register for a School Account Now
When someone applies for their passport they need to provide their PPS number. When a company makes a tax return they need their VAT registration number. When schools conduct business or make returns to the Dept, they use their School Number. This is a code using five digits and one letter, something like 01234A or 98765B, and so on. The School Number is sacrosanct and identifies each school across Ireland. What’s beneficial for us is that the list of schools across Ireland is published on the Irish Government’s Open Data Portal, data.gov.ie (which links to Dept of Education's website). This data includes the Roll Number along with a series of other school information. From here we can reuse this data in a number of efficient ways.
What is Open Data?
The European Data Portal defines open data as:
"Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. Governments, businesses and individuals can use open data to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits."
As a technology provider, we always want to increase the benefits to schools and open data helps us achieve this in a very simple way.
How can do we help schools using open data?
Nobody likes filling out long-winded registration forms. School secretaries and principals are challenged with time constraints every day so a little thing like filling out a long online form is an experience they’d prefer to avoid. Meanwhile, we need to know some background information about any school that uses our system. The following is a flavour of the information we require:
- School Name
- Contact Phone & Email
- Ideally, we’d like to know the principal’s name
- Number of pupils
To include this information in a registration form would require a lot of form filling on the part of the school. And this is where the Roll Number comes in. Because we know the Roll Number and all the above-mentioned data from the Open Data on Department of Education’s website, we simply ask the school to type in their Roll Number and we join the dots from there. We turn this into the shortest registration form possible that only asks for 5 digits and 1 letter.
So if you are a school looking to use our system and you don’t like filling out forms, then we have you covered. You can register for a SchoolAlerts.ie account for your school here.
Register for a School Acount Now
SchoolAlerts.ie is now available for primary and secondary schools across Ireland. This service represents a vast improvement in comparison to traditional SMS-based “text a parent” solutions. These SMS systems aren’t taking advantage of modern technology and therefore SchoolAlerts.ie is a much more efficient solution for all schools, both from a cost and service point of view.
Problems facing schools during periods of heavy usage
SchoolAlerts.ie was devised after recent major storms (Ophelia/Emma) when a number of schools contacted us to check if we would develop an “app based alert system” as an alternative to SMS. After all, we manage hundreds of clients across Ireland from local authorities (MapAlerter.com) to Community Text Alert (CommunityAlerts.ie). As the weather deteriorated during those storms, schools needed to regularly keep parents up to date on school openings and other operational news. SMS was used as the primary delivery channel and this came at a huge cost to schools. We felt we could do much better than the SMS-based “text a parent” solution that schools were using and offer an improved service at a reduced price. We offer this service as a flat-rate annual fee. There are no usage spikes during storms and this is beneficial during storm season.
SchoolAlerts.ie is managed by Pin Point Alerts Ltd, an Irish bulk-message communications service provider that specialises in reducing client costs. We always listen to feedback from our clients and schools quickly told us how limited their SMS systems truly were. Using our 10-year history in creating custom messaging applications for Irish clients, we summarised the following pain points for schools:
- Schools are not financially set up to issue mass messages if SMS is used as the sole delivery channel. SMS costs have risen dramatically over the years and an average sized primary school (~ 150 pupils) could send upwards of €1200 in a school year if events like Ophelia/Emma occurred. SchoolAlerts.ie is offered to schools as a flat-rate annual fee (just €299 incl. VAT). Each alert we issue is free and there are never any costs for parents. There are no usage spikes during storms and this is extremely beneficial during periods like Ophelia. View our transparent and budget-friendly Pricing Page.
- SMS is extremely limited in nature. It is restricted to 160 characters and there are additional cost implications for any messages that exceed this length. In many cases, 160 characters simply doesn’t cut it and additional content is often required for school messages. SMS messages that are 0-160 characters in length typically cost around 7 cent so long messages are 14 cent, and so on. SchoolAlerts.ie messages are not restricted in length. We allow 1600 characters, if you need it, and these are free messages to well-known apps. Simply put, 1000 SMS messages with a “text a parent” service will cost your school €70 but this is completely free with SchoolAlerts.ie. We include a cost comparison tool on our Pricing Page.
- Bulk SMS is typically offered as a one-way channel. We felt that with the proliferation of new app channels there was scope for parents to be able to communicate back to schools in a structured manner. SchoolAlerts.ie includes the ability for schools to issue Polls to parents, and parents can respond to a question by tapping from a multi-choice answer on Messenger, Viber or Telegram. This comes at no cost to the school or parent and makes extended use of the service.
- Many SMS systems for schools that we explored seem to be short on ideas when we examined their technology. They basically include systems that allow schools to manually issue alerts, and little else. We developed SchoolAlerts.ie with scalability in mind and we integrate with data sources such as Met Eireann for automatically forwarding on Orange and Red warnings to parents during storm season. Feedback from Ophelia was that schools found this a challenge to keep on top of, so it makes sense for SchoolAlerts.ie to automate weather alerts as updates are posted by Met Eireann
- Some “text a parent” companies did have app facilities, but in all cases these apps were difficult to navigate and use. They had a poor user experience and, in all cases, included a convoluted and confusing registration process. We felt we could build on existing well-known apps such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Viber to get around this challenge as the user experience was already familiar to the parent.
Transferring over to SchoolAlerts.ie
If you are interested in switching your school over to SchoolAlerts.ie then your first question is probably about the switching process. We assist all schools with this task. You can export your data out of any “text a parent” solution to Excel and this can be imported into the SchoolAlerts.ie system. Once your data is imported it is a simple task to get parents on board. We send them an SMS on your behalf with a link to our website with instructions.
If you need any help, then we are with you every step of the way. Schools can contact us at 01-2544363 or set up a trial account. The registration process takes 90 seconds and no payment information is required. We use your Roll Number to get your contact details, so you should have it handy.
Register Your School
Compare Pricing with SMS Services