Truancy Call Tackles School Truancy with TTS

EDINBURGH, UK - C3 and Rhetorical announced that text-to-speech systems developed by the two companies are being used by Truancy Call to tackle over 3000 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 child is 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 of the child read out from a computer database using text-to-speech technology. Stephen Clarke, a Director of Truancy Call said: The Truancy Call service would simply not be possible without text-to-speech technology. To record the names of all the children and all their parents would mean someone 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. 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. The text-to-speech system used by Truancy Call is based on a 120 channel C3 Apcentia automated call handling system with a 30 channel Rhetorical text-to-speech server. The system, which replaced an earlier IVR and text-to-speech system, went live in October 2002. Marc Moens, CEO, Rhetorical said: Truancy Call is a great example of how companies are starting to think more creatively about how to use text-to-speech to create a business solution with real value. To date, many people have thought of text-to-speech simply as a technical solution to read email over the phone. Here's an example, however, of an entire new commercial service enabled through this exciting technology. While C3 supports a number of text-to-speech products that are compatible with Microsoft's SAPI 5.0 speech standard, Rhetorical is the company's preferred choice. John Wood, Sales and Marketing Manager, C3 said: 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. How Truancy Call works To use Truancy Call, schools registered with the service simply tick the names of pupils absent from school registration into computer terminals that connect via the web to the Truancy Call central database. The 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 text-to-speech technology. The system then requests the parent or guardian to confirm their identity by pressing a 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.
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