Neil Willis understands that it’s a dangerous world out there. After serving in the Air Force during the 1990s, Willis realized the importance of security. “When I was in the Air Force, I designed video surveillance,” he says. “It was there that I developed my love for technology.”
He channeled his expertise into launching CQ Media, a technology-driven company that provides software from media-content delivery to digital signage. Through innovative software solutions, the South Carolina-based company serves three areas: health care, K-12 education, and higher education.
The company’s newest creation brings security back into the elementary school pickup system. CQ Media designed, developed, and produced KidGopher, an innovative and secure child-pickup system that ensures order and security during the most stressful time of the school day. “This technology was inspired by educators in South Carolina and designed in close partnership with school administrators seeking the highest level of security combined with the most efficient process of handling student pickup,” Willis says. “You often have parents with custody issues that the teacher may not be aware of. It can become a horrible experience for the parent and for the educator if a child leaves the school with the wrong person.”
KidGopher is the first of its kind in enabling the highest level of security in the child pickup process. A parent or guardian who is authorized to pick up a child has a profile created with their personal information, vehicle information, and a photo ID. The children also have profiles, which are affiliated with the parent or guardian profiles. Each parent is then assigned a five-digit pin code, or RFID “gopher” card. This card contains the information about the parent or guardian, and will indicate to school administrators and teachers which students he or she is allowed to pick up from school. To ensure security, KidGopher accounts use encrypted technology with secure user logins.
“When a valid parent or guardian comes to pick up their child, a teacher or school administrator greets them in line and, using a handheld device such as an iPod touch or RFID scanner, scans the gopher card, which then displays a list of students eligible for pick up by that guardian, along with their photo for verification,” Willis says. “The teacher selects which students are being picked up, and that information is transferred to a digital television display in a designated staging area.”
Once a student’s name appears on the display, they are ushered to the appropriate vehicle. The school administrator or teacher uses a tablet device, such as an iPad, that automates the students’ names and photos to sign off the pickup. “What’s great about this system is that the pressure is off of the teacher from having to remember all of the parents’ faces and the children they are associated with. With KidGopher, any teacher (including substitute teachers) can be assigned to the child pickup area,” Willis says.
CQ Media’s-newly released “cloud” version will make the process even more seamless. “It doesn’t require server equipment,” Willis says. “You can have the system with smaller components, such as an iPod touch or an iPad. The launch of KidGopher this past year has gained a substantial amount of hype, and we’re currently negotiating with over 200 elementary schools throughout the United States for installation.”
“We believe in impacting the lives of others,” Willis says. “The return on investment is not only the product, but the effect it has on people and society. KidGopher has the potential to save lives, and we are very excited about that.”