481 — C3 and Rhetorical TTS software tackles truancy in UK schools

Feb 7, 2003 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

C3 and Rhetorical, UK providers of speech software, announced that text-to-speech (TTS) systems developed by the two companies are being used by Truancy Call to tackle over 3,000 cases of truancy from UK schools each day. Truancy Call is a centrally managed, automated outbound phone service used by 150 educational establishments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to alert families that their children are absent from school without a valid reason.

Once an outbound alert call to a parent’s phone is picked up, an automated message is used to notify the parent of the child’s absence with the name of the parent and the child read out from a computer database using TTS technology.

“The Truancy Call service simply wouldn’t be possible without text-to-speech technology. To record the names of all the children and their parents would mean having to record almost 500,000 names for the 150 schools we deal with and updating records for new pupils and parents would be a nightmare,” explains Stephen Clarke, a director of Truancy Call.

“Using text-to-speech we can quickly and efficiently take computer files of pupils and parents from each school and load them onto our system. The text-to-speech system does the rest,” Clarke adds.

The TTS system used by Truancy Call is based on a 120 channel C3 Apcentia automated call handling system with a 30 channel Rhetorical TTS server. The system, which replaced an earlier IVR and TTS system, went live in October 2002.

Truancy Call is a great example of how companies are thinking creatively about using text-to-speech to create business solutions with real value,

“To date, many people have thought of text-to-speech as a technical solution for reading emails over the phone. Here’s an example of an entire new commercial service enabled through this exciting technology,” says Marc Moens, CEO, Rhetorical.

While C3 supports a number of TTS products that are compatible with Microsoft’s SAPI 5.0 speech standard, Rhetorical is the company’s preferred choice. “After reviewing a number of text-to-speech products we selected the Rhetorical solution for Truancy Call on the grounds that it provided the best natural-sounding and accurate speech output as well as being highly scaleable and robust,” states John Wood, sales and marketing manager, C3.

To use Truancy Call, schools registered with the service tick the pupils absent from school registration into computer terminals that connect via the web to the Truancy Call central database.

120 channel C3 Apcentia Automated Call Handling SystemThe names and contact details of those pupils’ parents/guardians are identified from the central computer database and an outbound call initiated. Once connected, Truancy Call uses an automated message to notify the parent/guardian of the child’s absence and to read out the names of the child and parent using TTS technology. The system then requests that the parent/guardian confirms their identity by pressing a single button on their telephone keypad.

Once confirmed, Truancy Call plays another automated message asking if the parent/guardian is aware of their child’s absence. Again, responses are given by pressing appropriate buttons on the telephone handset. If the answer is yes, then the parent/guardian is required to provide a reason and an anticipated return date.

This is stored back on the Truancy Call system as a voice message that is accessed and played back by the school. If no, they will be automatically connected to a member of staff at the school, who will give an early warning that their child is missing from class.

If the parent/guardian is unavailable when the initial call is made, the Truancy Call system will automatically call again until contact is established up until 8.30 in the evening.

According to an official report, more than 50,000 students are estimated to miss school everyday in England. Last year, British education secretary, Estelle Morris, announced a 100m euros package of measures to improve pupils’ behaviour, including truancy.

Filipe Samora


Em Foco – Produto