Market Curiosity: Exploring Markets And Systems

February 20, 2013

PEMS Pocket school phone tree and Event Management System

Filed under: Castpoints, Editorials — Tags: , — Jeff Fitzmyers @ 12:28 pm

PEMS (Pocket Event Management System) is a flexible browser based application that simplifies communication between a school’s, parents, kids, administration, emergency responders, and the public. It’s low cost, low bandwidth and can run on any cell phone with a html browser. It’s based on a simplified version of the industry standard role based Incident Command System (ICS).

PEMS also works well with fairs, parades and other group activities.

Current Emergency Management Problems (in our school district)

  • Communication is only broadcast, there is no way to reply to emails or voicemails. When checking an email on an iPhone, I was prompted to download software. In a real emergency, this could tie up a lot of bandwidth.
  • Parents don’t know the status of their kids, and can’t communicate with them.
  • If kids are to be picked up, what if a parent can’t make it? How is that communicated to the office? How does the office handle all that communication?
  • In the event of a serious earthquake, where emergency responders might not be able to help, how are groups of people triaged? How are supplies requested, allocated, and transported?
  • In an earthquake, everyone meets on the large playground. How do people communicate?
  • Information is extremely course grained.

A solution to all those issues is a simple system that organizes the relationships and communications between people based on roles and resources. Parents, responders, and volunteers, have collaborative real-time access about everyone’s condition, abilities, and resources, to effectively do triage and allocate resources. Sample use case (draft)


  • Be informed of each major change in your kids status, location, and condition in real time.
  • Be able to contact children, and or their stewards, directly.
  • Be able to send kids to a neighbor’s house if unable to pick up.

Emergency Responders

  • Know many aspects of a situation before arrival (number involved, short description, photo) and so can start triage immediately.
  • Know location of incident.
  • Have immediate access to kids medical history on file.
  • Reduced response time because information can go directly to responders.
  • Can easily create new groups of people to manage situations in real time.

Teachers And Administrators

  • Can formally communicate while away from computers and if electricity is interrupted.
  • Reduce workload in multiple ways.
    • Most information is already present, and updated on a distributed basis.
    • Most decisions are made by a few taps.
  • Multiple near real time of filtered and organized information allow much better and faster decision making.
  • Communication is bi-directional.
  • The role of liaison with the public, and other jurisdictions, is simple and easy.
  • Can easily create new groups of people to manage situations in real time.


  • Know that they are in a system that supports them.
  • Have quick and direct access to parents.

Privacy And Preferences

  • Because of modularity, privacy is automatically protected.
  • People own their own information. In this case kids own their own information via their stewards. This avoids: Your School Is Screwing Your Kids For Profit.
  • Participants can pre-select which categories will trigger information being sent to them.

First month free. Then, if paying as an individual, participation costs $5 every 3 months. Or, if an event is paying, the cost is $1 per participant on the 1st of the month, and the participant pays zero. If a participant is in, say, 4 events, each event pays $0.25 and the particpant pays 0. Nobody is double charged, but payment is non refundable.

PEMS is a subset of the patent pending Castpoints system, and should be available September 2013.

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