Villageworks is a group of impassioned public-school parents who are entrepreneurs, software developers, engineers and product designers on a mission to offer districts the latest technology, free-of-charge to help keep our communities unified, safe and informed.
In the wake of recent public-school emergency incidents including shootings in Parkland, FL; Aztec NM; and Marshall County KY, it has become clear that current public-school emergency response protocols are inefficient. Outdated communication tools based on the use of intercom and paper-rosters coupled with a lack of state and federal funding means that the latest technology remains elusive for the majority of districts. This results in slower response times from incident commanders and agonized, uninformed family members.
As parents, we became concerned. As software developers, technologists and engineers, we believed we could come together and take matters into our own hands.
We conducted a survey to better understand the current state of technology and communications within public- school districts. We received responses from more that 500 school district superintendents, 1000 school principals and 1000 teachers across the U.S. as well as more than 1000 school principals in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Belize, Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa. The results of the survey were astounding:
- 95% said a safer environment for students and staff is their top priority
- 80% said they do not have basic contact information for all their children’s parents/guardians
- 86% said they rely exclusively upon an intercom to communicate school emergency information internally
- 70% said they need to improve both internal and external communications in order to be better equipped to handle emergencies
- 81% said they lacked funds to meet their technology needs
We realized that a solution to these problems is urgent and critical to student safety.
- How can a school-district effectively communicate an emergency to parents if they lack accurate contact information for them?
- How can a school effectively communicate critical, up-to-date information to staff and incident management teams in real-time if an emergency takes place?
- With a limited budget, what would enable a school or district to solve for these communication and safety issues, let alone do so quickly?
So we began to develop a tool to unify each community, connect all members including incident management teams and vastly improve emergency response and communications protocol. We knew the tool needed to be effective, responsive, customizable and easy-to-use in a worse-case scenario.
Our goal is now to provide this tool free-of-charge to all public-schools in the U.S. Financial constraints should not be a reason to put a child’s safety at risk. We as parents and members of the community at large would come together to make this vision a reality.
Villageworks’ parents were brought together by Tal Moise, a tech entrepreneur and father of two elementary school children, age 7 and 8. Tal’s most recent technology startup was co-founded in partnership with John Sculley, the former CEO of Pepsi and Apple Co. Together they launched Verified Person, a company focused on improving corporate safety by providing personnel background and security checks and creating one of the world’s largest criminal record databases. This experience made Tal acutely aware of safety threats and hence poised him to focus on finding a solution to those that may affect school communities nationally.
Tal has also founded technology companies in the healthcare, automotive and staffing industries and served as the CIO at Indiana University Health Systems. Tal has earned recognition as one of CIO Magazine’s Top 100 CIOs. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from University of Illinois.