Widgets Magazine

Bigger Thinking = Bigger Audiences with Campus Digital Signage

by Tom Stipes, Senior Director – Department of Digital Signage Technology at Georgia Tech
With each passing quarter exciting advances in technology find a way into the minds of our visionary inventors, into the vacuum of research and development, to the digital trade publications and social media and, of course, into our homes, offices, cars and pockets. It’s all happening at a dizzying pace:  IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, Smart City, Smart Campus and the awesomeness of the uber-connected world.
The higher education digital communications challenge is fluid: how best to leverage technological tools to deliver the best information available as quickly and broadly as possible.  Digital signage can play a huge role in the equation, to complement the many proven and well-executed content delivery plans by a university Communications Department.
The goal for our Department of Digital Signage Technology here at Georgia Tech is to deliver a communicative experience that results in our community feeling engaged, protected, informed and connected. Big and broad descriptive words, yes; and all uniquely valuable, forming a guiding blueprint in terms of content decisions, screen type and location, investment models and so on.
What is today a somewhat connected, well-run network of 200+ screens and players located in about 50 buildings (housing colleges or departments), it can eventually grow into a massively more valuable communications platform. Plans are broad and include potential expansion into the remaining 150 +/- buildings that house departments or colleges.
The most aggressive part of the plan is to expand beyond the existing network of indoor, mounted digital screens to develop an array of exciting, leading-edge new screen types and sizes to impact the entire 530-acre campus instantly and without interruption:

  • Onboard our fleet of buses and trolleys
  • Large-scale outdoor LED in our modern building corridors
  • Street furniture around campus to include dwell-time locations like bus stops, charging stations, benches and more
  • Interactive kiosks both inside and outside that offer surveillance cameras, security phones, beacons, wayfinding and potential for facial recognition technology and beyond as desired
  • Energy dashboards and classroom schedule screens and onboard elevators
  • Digital monument signage that complements the approved campus aesthetic
  • Unique indoor touchscreen video walls and high-impact viewing centers
  • Digital donor walls
  • A dedicated URL for the entire network as a repository of shared content

There are many complexities to consider when contemplating a project of this scope.  But to economize, the basic steps we will follow are:

  • Onboard a new content management system (CMS) that will be designed to be scalable and keep up with the many stages of our plan and the many custom content integrations necessary to the delivery of critical information/data
  • Offer a new level of service delivery to our valuable customer/user base across campus to include content strategy, digital signage content creation services, SME when planning for new construction or renovation plans that involve signage
  • Roll out a new plan for player connectivity that evolves around an HTML-5 platform of cloud hosting and delivery for maximum efficiency
  • Deliver a master plan for revenue that leverages corporate partnerships
  • Establish a new centralized form of content output that rewards both global/campus-wide and local/department interests and that presents viewers with content that delivers on the four main paths above, but also which maintains and enforces the importance of Tech’s brand standards as directed by Institute Communications
  • Create a best-in-class platform when factoring content, screens, service and delivery

The overall key will be inclusion:  it will be critical to include in this process all departments, the student community, those charged with protecting the campus and its people, those charged with managing the flow of communication and the leadership that directs campus on every level.
The bottom-line is that while the rest of modern society is accepting and benefitting from the advantages of digital communications and signage technology, so should the campus eco-system, and many universities are embracing its controlled growth so as to coincide with strategic principles.
Author Tom Stipes will present “High Risk, High Reward: How Taking a Big Leap With Big Thinking Can Transform Digital Signage on Campus,” at Digital Signage Expo 2018 on Wednesday, March 28 at 8 a.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2018 or to learn more about digital signage go to www.dse2018.com.
Tom is a presenter at DSE www.dse2018.com.

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