While working on a fee management system for a Miami school, Rene Perez ’03 noticed there wasn’t any security for visitor management, nothing that kept track of who was picking up kids.
That meant the school was vulnerable and essentially open to anyone, from sex offenders to potential school shooters to kidnappers pretending to be relatives. And while some schools have security guards, that’s not always enough.
“I spoke to the principal and said, ‘If I can build something that would check who walks into the building, that keeps track of who’s there, who dismisses a child, would you be interested?’” Perez says. “He said yes, so I made a pilot program and it went from there.”
Perez developed an app, CONCIERGEpad, that promotes school safety by serving as a check-in system for schools. Visitors sign in by entering their name and having the iPad camera scan their driver’s license.
Each visitor is then cross-referenced with the National Sex Offender Registry and the school’s blacklist. If a person is found on either of the lists, an administrator is notified via text and can handle the situation accordingly.
Picking children up from school requires a photo ID and signature. Once everything checks out, a text is sent to the parent(s) on file, letting them know who picked up their child. Other features include printing visitor badges, the ability to flag visitors as suspicious, and an administrator-activated emergency mode that alerts staff members in the building.
“We really feel that there is a need, this is definitely a high-alert topic,” Perez says. “I think anybody who has kids would appreciate having some kind of checking mechanism that’s auditing who’s coming in and out of the school. No system is going to stop a school shooting, but schools are putting systems in place to strengthen security. This is just a pillar of a school’s overall security plan.”
Perez had received positive feedback from schools using his app. Some are coming from having no visitor check-in system, he says, and the app has improved their security. The app is used in schools from elementary to high school.
As a father of three, the cause is close to his heart. The school his children attend uses CONCIERGEpad.
“When my mother-in-law goes to pick up my children, I do appreciate the text I receive telling me who picked up my daughter and at what time,” Perez says. “I’m able to enjoy the fruits of my labor with my own experience and my own kids.”
Since its conception in April 2015, CONCIERGEpad has spread to more than 250 schools in eight states. Because he’d like to be in all 50 states someday, Perez and his company are constantly taking feedback from schools and parents, and using it to further develop the app.
The system is currently available only on iOS, but eventually Perez hopes to venture out to Android devices. He says because of the constant development, it would be difficult to manage two code stacks.
The app has also been modified for assisted living facilities and businesses. Those variations of the app scans lists of who can visit a resident and notify employees of deliveries. All variations come with a web-based dashboard that can generate reports on who’s been visiting and when.
In the school setting, Perez is aware of several situations where CONCIERGEpad stopped someone prohibited from entering different schools. The offenders were identified from both the sex offender registry and the school’s blacklist.
“The problem we’re trying to solve here is school safety, and if you’re a parent, there’s not a lot of things that are more important than that," he says. "Serving schools and keeping kids safe, that’s what we’re most proud of.”
To learn more about how CONCIERGEpad helps keep schools safe, please visit its website.