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Development of College Announcement Notification System

Chapter 1: Introduction


This project proposal is created to propose an IT solution to the student of Sunway University. The main point that the author want to highlight is regarding the efficiencies for student in Sunway University. An example, inefficiencies that occur in posting the announcement that is post on the website or in the notice board, it is hard to inform to the student and also the staff may also forget to post the announcement that will inconvenient for the student itself. In order to solve those problems, the author proposed to create a website as a third party for the staff to post the announcement. The author feel that only a website is very simple and common nowadays, so to improve the effectiveness and give more efficiency, a SMS (Short Messaging Service) feature is added to the system. Every announcement is posted by the SCT Staffs in the website, a SMS notification will be sent to the student that already registered to the website. The content of the SMS just a brief notification about the title of the event, venue and time, for more brief detail the students can refer to the website. Other way to notify the students is used Email as an instant notifier, but consider using email as an instant notifier is not really effective because students didn’t open their email every day but using the SMS as the instant notifier to notify the students are more effective because most of the student is own and bring their own cell phone, therefore the MS as an instant notifier is more appropriate. Since the advancement of the technology nowadays, using this system will help in reduce the paper usage.

Project Objective

  • To give efficiencies for staff of Sunway University who want to post announcement.
  • To use SMS as an instant notifier, for example every announcement post on the website the student will receive a SMS about the annoncement.
  • In long term of view, this system will help in notify student about things that happen in college.

Project Scope

  • To become the most useful media for announcement notification.
  • When the system is run it involves the Sunway University students and staffs that want to use the service.
  • The user of the system should be students of Sunway University and staffs.
  • All users that want to use the system have to become member.


Methodology is a formalized approach to implement the SDLC (System Development Life Cycle). There are many different systems development methodologies, and each one is unique based on the order and focus it places on each SDLC phase. Some methodologies are formal standards used y government agencies, while others have been developed by consulting firms to sell to client. Many organizations have internal methodologies that have been honed over the years, and they explain exactly how each phase of the SDLC is to be performed in that company.

There are many ways to categorize methodologies. One way is looking at whether they focus on business process or the data that support the business. There are three types of system development methodologies, it is called Structured Design, RAD (Rapid Application Development), and Agile Development.

Types of Software Development Methodologies

Structured Design

This is the first type of system development, it is introduced in 1980s. This methodology adopts the formal step by step approach to the SDLC, it moves logically from one phase to another phase.

Waterfall Model

This is the original structured design of methodology, with this methodology, the analyst and users proceed in sequence from one phase to the next phase. The key deliverables for each phase are typically very long and are presented to the project sponsor for approval as the project moves from phase to phase. This methodology is referred to as waterfall development because it moves forward from phase to phase in the same manner as a waterfall.

Advantages of using waterfall model:

  • It identifies system requirements long before programming begins
  • It minimizes changes to the requirements as the project proceeds.

Disadvantages of using waterfall model:

  • The design must be completely specified before programming begins
  • This model required significant rework, if there is a changes in the business environment, in order to going back to the initial phase need to go through each of the subsequent phase in return.

Parallel Development

This model of methodology attempts to address the problem of long delay between analysis phase and the delivery of the system. Instead of doing design and implementation in sequence, it performs a general design for the whole system and then divides the project into a series of distinct subprojects that can be designed and implemented in parallel. Once all subprojects are complete, there is a final integration of the separate pieces, and the system is delivered.

Advantage of using parallel model:

  • It can reduce the schedule time to deliver a system
  • There is less chance of changes in the business environment causing rework

Disadvantage of using parallel model:

  • The approach still suffers from problem caused by paper documents
  • It adds new problem, sometimes subprojects aren’t completely independent; design decisions made in one subproject may affect another subprojects

Phased Development

In this model, the overall system is divided into a series of version that are developed sequentially. The analysis phase identifies the overall system concept, and the project team, users and system sponsors then categorize the requirement into a series of version.

Advantage of using phased model:

  • Quickly getting a useful system into the hands of the users
  • While the system does not perform all the functions the users need at first, it does begin to provide business value sooner than if the system were delivered after completion, as is the case with waterfall or parallel methodology.

Disadvantage of using phased model:

  • The users begin to work with the systems that are intentionally incomplete, it is critical to identify the most important and useful feature and include them in the first version, while managing users expectation along the way.


In this model, it performs the analysis, design and implementation phases concurrently, and all the three phases are performed repeatedly in a cycle until the system is completed. In this methodology, the basics of analysis and design are performed, and work immediately begins on a system prototype, a “quick and dirty” program that provides a minimal amount of features.

Advantage of using prototyping model:

  • It is very quickly provides a system for the users to interact with, even it is not ready for widespread organizational use at first.
  • Reassure the users that the project team is working on the system
  • Helps to more quickly refine real requirements rather than attempting to understand a system specification on paper, the user can interact with the prototype to better understand what it can do and cannot do.

Disadvantage of using prototyping model:

  • Its fast paced system releases challenge attempts to conduct careful, methodical analysis. This can cause problems in the development of complex systems because fundamental issues and problems are not recognized until well into the development process.

Software Development Methodology Comparison

After do research about the types of methodology that is appropriate to be used into the project. The author compared the 4 types of methodology that is compatible with the current development. The following table is the result of using the described methodology to the project.

System Characteristic Waterfall Parallel Phased Prototyping
Unclear User Requirement Poor Poor Good Excellent
Unfamiliar Technology Poor Poor Good Poor
Complexity of the System Good Good Good Poor
Reliability of the System Good Good Good Poor
Short Time Schedule Poor Good Excellent Excellent
Schedule Visibility Poor Poor Excellent Excellent

Table 1 Methodology Comparison

Selecting the appropriate Methodology

According to the project objective that the author proposed, author analyze each methodology that is already been researched. The author decides to use the Phased Methodology. The main reason on why the author uses this methodology is because the author would develop this system all by himself and the project will be easier to be built phase by phase. Other considerations in choosing this model are:

  • User Requirement: the requirement of the system is clear, which is to address the problem of inefficiency and ineffectiveness of conventional way in notify the student for announcement.
  • Familiarity with Technology: for designing the website, PHP, VB.Net language technology is going to be used, since it is still in area of the author expertise.
  • System Complexity: the complexity of this project is at medium level, since the author familiar with the technology used in the project so it is not really difficult. However the author still need to do research on certain area of technology, for this case the knowledge of SMS gateway, and how to integrate the web based system with the SMS gateway.
  • Duration: the duration of developing the project is approximately 4 months in order to fully complete the project.
  • Development Method: it is a web based application that is built using the PHP, and VB.NET as the programming language.

Area of Research

Certain areas that we research for this project are:

  • How to create easy and manageable database system?
  • What is SMS (Short Message Service) portal and SMS (Short Message Service) gateway?
  • How to integrate web based system with SMS portal?

How to create easy and manageable database system?

This part is one of the crucial parts in order to make a good web based application system. Therefore, creating an easy and manageable database system is really important. The database system that the author used to manage the College Announcement System web based application is MySQL. Several reasons become the consideration of choosing the MySQL software are, first reason is because the main programming language system that the author built is using the PHP technology, and PHP language has an integrated connector that able to connect it to SQL. Second reason, MySQL is open source software so it is free for download, it is will help in determining the project cost development. There is other software which is better than MySQL but looked back at the scope of the project; this is just an undergraduate project, then the author decides that using MySQL software is a wiser choice. The third reason, the author already took the MySQL subject during the study in Sunway University College, which is still in the author expertise. However, if this system wants to be implemented into the real organization, further study to create easy and manageable design is needed. When the project is already on the run, this would be very beneficial in doing maintenance of the application system.

How to integrate the Web based System with SMS portal?

As most people known that SMS is the most famous service that a mobile phone give. It is a service where the users able to send short text message from a mobile phone to another mobile phone. Basically the SMS would not work with just the mobile phone itself, it I because the Mobile Phone Network Operator that give the service so the SMS can be delivered to the recipient by the help of the mobile phone device as the medium to type the message. The SMS can travel all the way from the sender device to the recipient device must go through a pathway through a network called SMSC (Short Message Service Centre). SMSC works as a hardware that stores the SMS that is sent from a mobile phone then forward it again to the recipient.

From the early of 1990s, the era when the first SMS is sent through the network using the mobile phone device. Nowadays with the advancement of the technology, SMS not only can be done through using mobile phone but can be integrated in other application such as web based application system, using the SMS gateway technology. However, the SMS that is sent still have to go through SMSC, which is still needed to use the SIM Card that is given by the mobile network operator. SMS gateway act as a bridge the platform that cannot use the mobile phone SIM Card to use the mobile service by using the GSM modem, in this case the mobile service is to send the SMS. The mobile SIM Card will be inserted into the GSM modem. GSM modem will act as the third party to connect to the SMSC. The web based application store the message that will be sent into the database, and the GSM will retrieve the data from the database and ready to send the SMS to the destination number. The basic function of SMS and email is the same, for email the sender need to enter the destination email and for SMS the sender need to enter the destination phone number. The difference is why SMS is more popular than email is because it is mobile and user can send and receive SMS wherever they are. The mobile advantage of using SMS is the reason that makes the author choose the SMS application system to be added into the College Announcement Notification system instead of using email. Another reason the author choose to use SMS is because most of the students in Sunway didn’t have mobile phone that can handles in receiving and sending email, but most of the students have mobile phone that enable them to send and receive SMS. Therefore, using the SMS as additional software into College Announcement Notification system is the best choice, and the author also learn to use the GSM modem and the implementation of it into the system.

Software / Hardware Requirements

In order to make this project successful there are some hardware and software which is required to use in order to complete the project are:

Software and Hardware requirement to develop the system.


  • SQL YOG: is the database software that the author chose to be implemented inside the College Announcement Notification system. SQL Yog had the user friendly interface and it is open source software.
  • XAMPP: this software is applied as the localhost to compile the web based application.
  • Adobe Dreamweaver: is the software that makes it easier to edit the coding for PHP, JAVA.


  • PC (with mouse, keyboard, monitor) / laptop with minimum specification: Intel Core Duo processor(1.66Hz), 1GB RAM, 60GB 5400 RPM HDD
  • Software and Hardware Requirement to run the system.

User Side Hardware Requirement:

  • PC (with mouse, keyboard, monitor) / laptop with minimum specification: Intel Core Duo processor(1.66Hz), 1GB RAM, 60GB 5400 RPM HDD

User Side Software Requirement:

  • Web browser: Mozilla Firefox, IE, Google Chrome, etc

Server Side Hardware Requirement:

  • PC (with mouse, keyboard, monitor) / laptop with minimum specification: Intel Core Duo processor(1.66Hz), 1GB RAM, 60GB 5400 RPM HDD
  • GSM Modem

Server Side Software Requirement:

  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • SQL Yog
  • Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox, IE, Google Chrome, etc

Server side software requirement is needed to do the regular maintenance on the system. The development software might be needed to fix error that might be occurred when the system on the run.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Literature Review

Literature Review is a critical look at the existing research that is significant to the work that is currently undergo. The author currently did a project; College Announcement Notification System is the project. College Announcement Notification System is a web based application system, which is proposed as a solution to Sunway University College regarding the poor information flow in Sunway University College especially School of Computer Technology. The author chose to propose the solution only to School of Computer Technology because of the course that currently taken is under it. College Announcement Notification System is a web based application, it is hoped the system would work perfectly and increasing the information flow within School of Computer Technology (SCT). The users of the system able to access the College Announcement Notification System via laptop or PC, as long there is an internet connection. The author think if it just a normal website, there is no uniqueness that makes my project different than the others. After doing research, the author decided to add the SMS feature as the instant notification system. Integrate the system with SMS feature; means need to deal with SMS gateway. The author aware that using the SMS feature is almost the same like adding the Email as the instant notification where the system is able to send automatically the posted announcement that is already posted in the website. Email is an electronic mail that worked same like a normal mail, where the users need to write the content of the letter, after that the address of the recipient is a must for the users to add. Email enables users to send and receive electronically over the internet. SMS and Email basically is the same, it contains text and to send it need to know the exact recipient email address for email and phone number for SMS. There are many email server company that is give services for the users to send and receive email such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, etc. There is also an application that handles email such as Microsoft Outlook.

Some advantages that email could give are emails is free for users to use like send and receive mail, it can contains richer message contents than the conventional mail did. However from the advantages that an email, there are also a few disadvantages of emails. With the advancement of the technology nowadays, the previous email only can sent the words but nowadays, users can sent not only words but can attach richer media such as picture, video, file, etc. This advantages of email were misused by some people, it enable them to send virus, malicious software, spam that can harm the recipients PC or laptop. In order to overcome this security issue, the email provider companies try many ways to increase the security but the spammer can overcome the security and still sent the spam email that may contain virus and malicious software.

Using the email as an instant notification to the College Announcement Notification System is a good choice but users may not open their own email daily, usually users open their email whenever the feel like to open it. Therefore, the author proposed to use the SMS system as the instant notification. There are few reasons that become the considerations of choosing SMS to be implemented. First reason, the project is a notification system so SMS is the best choice because after the sender sent it then the recipients received it in instant. Second reason, if using email the recipients of the email need to open their own laptop or PC, and then open the email service web page, it will takes time and not instant. Most of the students nowadays had their own mobile phone and they carry their mobile phone everywhere they go, so it is one of the reason why the author choose to use SMS as an instant notification. Mobile phone user aware that open a SMS is faster than open an Email. Nowadays, many mobile phone producers now produced a new mobile phone that can handles in send or receive an email. However mobile phone that can handles send and receive email is still too expensive for the most of the mobile phone users only a few that can afford that. But if the SMS only, most of the mobile phone users able to send and receive that because it is the basic function that the mobile phone offer.

SMS (Short Messaging Service)

As most people known, SMS is a protocol used in communication that gives way to exchange of short message from one mobile phone to another mobile phone (, 2009). Nowadays mobile phone takes an important part because it provides connections to the others that in the past impossible to do. The main usage of the mobile phone is to enable users to make a phone call wherever and whenever they are, beside used to call others; other main function of mobile phone that is growing rapidly is the usage of SMS service.

SMS stands for Short Message Service. It is a technology that enables the sending and receiving of messages between mobile phones. SMS first appeared in Europe in 1992. It was included in the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standards right at the beginning. Later it was ported to wireless technologies like CDMA and TDMA. The GSM and SMS standards were originally developed by 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) is responsible for the development and maintenance of the GSM and SMS standards.

As suggested by the name “Short Message Service”, the data that can be held by an SMS message is very limited. One SMS message can contain at most 140 bytes (1120 bits) of data, so one SMS message can contain up to:

  • 160 characters if 7-bit character encoding is used. (7-bit character encoding is suitable for encoding Latin characters like English alphabets.)
  • 70 characters if 16-bit Unicode UCS2 character encoding is used. (SMS text messages containing non-Latin characters like Chinese characters should use 16-bit character encoding.)

SMS text messaging supports languages internationally. It works fine with all languages supported by Unicode, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Besides text, SMS messages can also carry binary data. It is possible to send ringtones, pictures, operator logos, wallpapers, animations, business cards (e.g. VCards) and WAP configurations to a mobile phone with SMS messages.

One major advantage of SMS is that it is supported by 100% GSM mobile phones. Almost all subscription plans provided by wireless carriers include inexpensive SMS messaging service. Unlike SMS, mobile technologies such as WAP and mobile Java are not supported on many old mobile phone models. (, 2008)

Usage of SMS

As the mobile voice communication market approaches saturation, carriers are focusing on messaging as crucial value -added service to garner more mobile subscribers and generate greater market revenue. Specifically, SMS (Short Messaging Service) is emerging as one of the most important asynchronous communication that carriers provide. It is projected that in 2009 U.S subscribers will send over 126 billion messages via their mobile phone device, generating $8.6 billion revenues (Deng, Sun, Turner, Prince, 2008). Nowadays, people are presented with a wide variety of communication media such as email, instant messaging (IM), etc.

To date, most researchers have focused on the use of SMS by teenager and young adult. Recently as SMS become the needs in our daily lives, older people also recognized the convenience of using SMS. It has been reported that over 74% of the mobile phone users worldwide is using SMS text messaging (Deng, Sun, Turner, Prince, 2008).

How does the SMS works?

Even if you are not talking on your cell phone, your phone is constantly sending and receiving information. It is talking to its cell phone tower over a pathway called acontrol channel. The reason for this chatter is so that the cell phone system knows which cell your phone is in, and so that your phone can change cells as you move around. Every so often, your phone and the tower will exchange a packetof data that lets both of them know that everything is OK.

Your phone also uses the control channel for call setup. When someone tries to call you, the tower sends your phone a message over the control channel that tells your phone to play itsringtone. The tower also gives your phone a pair of voice channel frequencies to use for the call.

The control channel also provides the pathway for SMS messages. When a friend sends you an SMS message, the message flows through the SMSC, then to the tower, and the tower sends the message to your phone as a little packet of data on the control channel. In the same way, when you send a message, your phone sends it to the tower on the control channel and it goes from the tower to the SMSC and from there to its destination. (, 2005)

The SME (Short Message Entity), which is typically a mobile phone or a GSM modem, can be located in the fixed network or a mobile station, receives and sends short messages. The SME was sent to the SMSC.TheSMSC (Short Message Service Center)is the entity which does the job of store and forward of messages to and from the mobile station. After receiving the SME, then SMSC sent the SME to the SMS GMSC.

TheSMS GMSC(SMS gateway MSC (Mobile Switching Center)) is a gateway so that MSC that can also receive short messages. The gateway MSC is a mobile network’s point of contact with other networks. On receiving the short message from the short message center, GMSC uses the SS7 network to interrogate the current position of the mobile station form the HLR, the home location register.

HLRis the main database in a mobile network. It holds information of the subscription profile of the mobile and also about the routing information for the subscriber, i.e. the area (covered by a MSC) where the mobile is currently situated. The GMSC is thus able to pass on the message to the correct MSC.

MSC(Mobile Switching Center) is the entity in a GSM network which does the job of switching connections between mobile stations or between mobile stations and the fixed network.

AVLR(Visitor Location Register) corresponds to each MSC and contains temporary information about the mobile, information like mobile identification and the cell (or a group of cells) where the mobile is currently situated. Using information from the VLR the MSC is able to switch the information (short message) to the corresponding BSS (Base Station System, BSC + BTSs), which transmits the short message to the mobile. The BSS consists of transceivers, which send and receive information over the air interface, to and from the mobile station. This information is passed over the signaling channels so the mobile can receive messages even if a voice or data call is going on. (

How to send SMS using a computer?

After done some research about how the SMS works, there are several ways in sending SMS using computer, they are (, 2008):

  • Connect a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to a computer / PC. Then use the computer / PC and VB commands to instruct the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to send SMS message.
  • Connect the computer / PC to the SMS center (SMSC) or SMS gateway of a wireless carrier or SMS service provider. Then send SMS messages using a protocol / interface supported by the SMSC or SMS gateway.

Connection between mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to computer using VB command for sent SMS

A GSM/GPRS modem is a wireless modem that works with GSM/GPRS wireless networks. A wireless modem is similar to a dial-up modem. The main difference is that a wireless modem transmits data through a wireless network whereas a dial-up modem transmits data through a copper telephone line. To send SMS messages, first place a valid SIM card from a wireless carrier into a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem, which is then connected to a computer. There are several ways to connect a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to a computer. For example, they can be connected through a serial cable, a USB cable, a Bluetooth link or an infrared link. The actual way to use depends on the capability of the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem.

After connecting a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to a computer, you can control the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem by sending instructions to it. The instructions used for controlling the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem are called by using VB commands.

The above figure showed the process of sending SMS using the VB application. In this case, the system that the author developed is using PHP that act as the third party to store the announcement data inside the database. After finish with the stored announcement, VB application is used to instruct the GSM modem to send SMS. As shown in the figure above, VB application will retrieve the stored data that will be sent as SMS. Then after retrieving the data, it will be sent to through SMS gateway until it arrived in the hand of the recipient.

One of the benefits from using the VB application to send SMS is users will have a very reliable notification system, because before sending SMS intended recipient can be configured so it is received at the intended recipient.

Using a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to send SMS messages has a major drawback, which is the SMS sending rate is too low. Only 6-10 SMS messages can be sent per minute (when the “SMS over GSM” mode is used). The performance is not affected by the connection between the computer and the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem (i.e. the SMS sending rate is about the same no matter the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem is connected to the computer through a serial cable, USB cable, Bluetooth link or infrared link) and does not depend on whether a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem is used (i.e. the SMS sending rate is about the same no matter a mobile phone or a GSM/GPRS modem is used). The determining factor for the SMS sending rate is the wireless network. (, 2008)

Send SMS from Computer through SMS Gateway

The way for sending SMS messages from a computer through a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem has a major limitation, which is the SMS sending rate is too low. If you need a high SMS sending rate, obtaining a direct connection to the SMS center (SMSC) or SMS gateway of a wireless carrier is necessary.

It can be difficult for small businesses or individual application developers to obtain a direct connection to the SMSC or SMS gateway of a wireless carrier since a wireless carrier may only provide such service to those who have huge SMS traffic. Buying SMS messages in bulk means the total fee will be very high (although the fee per SMS message will be low). (deve

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