Hundreds of schools now using dismissal app
TAMPA (FOX 13) - A few years ago, Pat Bhava went to pick his daughter up from school. The back door of his car opened and a kid got in, but when he looked into the back seat, someone else's child had been put in his car.
It's something he can laugh about now, but on that day Pat saw a big problem.
"Dismissal safety is critical," Pat told us.
After the incident, Pat and his wife -- plus friend Jonathan Elliott -- created PikMyKid, an app designed to make school dismissals safer, faster, and easier.
"We had a couple of local schools reach out to us and say 'Hey, we want to try this out', and we were pretty honest with them. We said 'We're just starting and I don't know if it will work.'" Pat said.
At first, about 12 schools signed up. By the third year, PikMyKid is used by almost 100 schools.
Then the floodgates opened.
"Today we are in 27 states, and five different countries outside the U.S., as well," Pat told us.
He also explained how it works.
"We set a geofence around the school of, say, 300 yards and every time a parent with a registered cell phone enters the geo-fence, the school exactly knows who's in the line and they're there to pick up exactly whom," Pat said.
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For Principal Connie Dixon, it wasn't traffic but a tragedy that got her attention.
"The concern really was heightened after Parkland. We realized we were letting a lot of people on campus and really didn't know who they were," Dixon said.
Her solution was the PikMyKid app.
"It's accomplishing what we want it to. Is it convenient for everybody? No, it isn't, but is it going to keep our students safe? It is," she explained.
Pat says PikMyKid also protects kids at a fraction of the cost of resource officers.
"If you look at it from the cost perspective, they cost about $60,000 to $80,000 a year. Now, the cost of our product with all the features costs less than $3,500 a year." Pat said.
However you measure the benefits, Pat has vowed to continue developing new ways of improving school safety and giving parents peace of mind.