Rethinking Parent Alert System

I broke the Visual-Pager keypad at church yesterday. This device allows workers in our nursery to notify our tech booth operators that they need to display a number on our video projection system. Each parent and child are assigned a number and parents know they are being paged back to the nursery if their number appears on screen.

Being the frugal geek that I am, I’m trying to rethink if there is a free way to replace this system instead of spending another $250 on a new keypad. I’m thinking there should be some way to setup some service so that our nursery workers could call a special phone number and type in the number. Then this number is communicated to the tech booth operators via SMS, IM, or Twitter.

The closest I’ve come up with so far is to setup a special Jott account and link that in with a Twitter account. The nursery worker calls Jott, says they want to contact Twitter, and then speaks the number and name of the parent. This would require the tech booth to be running a Twitter client to see the alerts. Here’s a sample of what I’ve got it doing so far:

I’m thinking there should still be an even easier way to do this, hopefully involving fewer internet services. This solution wouldn’t work if our phone service, internet service, Jott, or Twitter experienced any outages. And, it’s not totally straight forward for our volunteers to use.

Anyone have a simpler idea?

4 thoughts on “Rethinking Parent Alert System”

  1. I’ve had a few people express that this solution is too complicated. That’s exactly my take on it. Things like this have to be simple for the users involved.
    My current plan is to simply watch eBay for a cheap replacement for the broken keypad.

  2. If you still haven’t fixed it a year later… Ebay!!! The other option is to call around to churches with the system to see if they have one they aren’t using. Get parents’ cell numbers, have them put their phone on vibrate. You can call them if they’re needed. How in the world did you managed to break the thing, anyway??

  3. Hey Sara. I tried eBay on this, but didn’t have any luck in the time frame I needed it. Ended up finding a replacement controller from some mail order place that was an exact replacement. I think I shorted it out by trying to bypass the fuse that is in the controller. I knew better. 🙂
    Hey, can you email me Steve’s current email? I haven’t talked to him in ages.

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