A Tampa-based tech company has come up with a solution for parents who are worried that children might wander off after school if they're late to be picked up.
The app and its accompanying website, titled PikMyKid, uses an integrated system that sends a message to schoolteachers to notify when parents are arriving to school to pick up kids. Once the teacher has received the notification, they can dismiss the child.
This follows recent news that one child in the Tampa area walked a mile back home unaccompanied after school when he had been dismissed but found that his mother was not waiting outside.
In an interview with 10 News, Ruth Borland, the mother of the child, recounted in tears what had happened:
"He was upset because I wasn't there and he was upset and he was just scared because he didn't know where I was."
Although everything was fine and the worst that happened on this occasion was a fright for mother and son, Ruth Borland has called for better accountability where kids wait out front of school to be picked up.
PikMyKid founder Saravana Pat Bhava feels that more can be done to ensure children's safety, and he says that new technologies are starting to provide an alternative for the at times chaotic after-school experience he describes below:
"The only tools which the schools use to manage this whole process are they throw about 50 teachers at the problem with walkie talkies, clipboards, sticky notes and loud hailers. We owe it to our children to do a better job."
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the app allows parents to individually manage the dismissal plan of their child. Aside from being able to notify the school when they are arriving, they can also inform if someone else is coming to pick up their child. The school is then able to receive information for every student and monitor them as they safely leave the school.
Parents will typically use their phones with the app while the monitor teachers will be using iPads, according to the PikMyKid website.
Pasco County schools are already using the app, with the company looking to expand. The system carries an estimated cost being between $3,000 and $5,000 per school for the year.
However, as reported by NBCWashington, the app could in fact save schools up to $47,000 a year, according to a study by the University of South Florida, as fewer teachers and law enforcement officials will be needed for the monitoring process.
PikMyKid is one of many new recent technology-based ideas aimed at making children safer at times when they may be unaccompanied by their parents. Finnish company Haltian have recently created a screenless phone that includes a tracking device for children too young to own a normal phone. Meanwhile, other apps and websites such as Class Dojo and Workday are aimed at enhancing the classroom and learning experience for kids.