South Hills Community News Release
ALTOONA — When a local church needed an automated way to communicate with its members, South Hills School of Business & Technology Information Technology (IT) students helped to find a solution.
Rick Grissinger, an IT student at the South Hills Altoona Campus, attends Immanuel Bible Church in Three Springs, PA where a “human phone chain” is the main form of communicating messages to all members. For instance, when inclement weather forces a cancellation of a service or church event, they get the word out to the members using a calling tree or phone list. The first person on the list calls the next person on the list to communicate the message and that person calls the next person on the list and so on, until everyone receives the cancellation message.
The IT students learned about VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software which provides phone service over the Internet in their classes at South Hills. Rick had an idea that this could be used to automate the cancellation messages for his church. Along with fellow students Cody Virgillo, Dylan Walters, and Derrek Payne, a working prototype was built, tested, and deployed in the cloud and demonstrated to church leaders.
IT Instructor, Guido Santella, supported the team by setting up a cloud server for the software, testing the system to ensure that it worked properly, and writing scripts that helped to coordinate the automated calls.
The project has been “live” since December and was tested to announce a weather-related cancellation. The system worked perfectly and alerted and left messages for more than 100 people within 15 minutes. The church is now considering implementing the student team’s solution and installing a permanent automated call system.
The student team:
Skills learned through the project include: