A new beginning for school communications
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.