CONTACT: Spencer Graham, WVU Information Stations (Manager of Operations)
(Editors: Screenshots of the new InfoStation screens are available for download on WVUToday.)
WVU’s Information Stations on the move after major makeover
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Spinning pictures, tumbling headlines and changing backgrounds all shout, “Look at me!”
And West Virginia University’s information stations just became more insistent, thanks to a change in the operating software.
While the “InfoStations’” main purpose is safety, they are also a key tool in delivering news and information to the WVU community.
But to do that effectively, folks must get in the habit of looking at the signs.
“We are constantly looking for ways to make heads turn to the digital signage,” says Spencer Graham, the system’s operations manager at WVU. The new X20 Media software helps do just that.
Before, the background on a page may have been solid blue; now the page can have live video with moving text. Rotating announcements, a falling snow overlay for the weather page, and book pages that turn for library announcements are all some of the changes WVU staff have been able to create to make the presentation more attractive and more eye-catching.
WVU has consistently been in the forefront of campus digital sign usage since the program was accelerated by the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April of 2007. Today, there are more than 70 screens stretching across the Evansdale, Downtown and Health Sciences campuses as well as at One Waterfront Place, PRT Stations and on 4,500 residence-hall room televisions on Channel 7.
Eventually, there will be about 100 screens on the campuses, as well as at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center in Charleston and Potomac State College in Keyser. More screens are to be installed this year inside the Creative Arts Center to showcase College of Creative Arts programs. In 2010, digital signs were placed in residence and dining hall common areas to catch students and employees where they congregate.
The Information Stations team, housed in University Relations/Video, will be adding more features, such as interactive games, to enhance engagement with the stations.
One of the first additions has been LocaModa Wiffiti programming, like that seen in Times Square, that allows people to send text messages and photos that show up on the InfoStation screens.
“Creating a culture of recognition based on interactivity with digital signage has long been a priority for us and the LocaModa apps allow us to do just that,” says digital signage designer George Cicci.
For example, the University’s Foursquare locations were connected to the system and were a big success, Cicci said, allowing the “mayor” of a location to be displayed on the InfoStation screen. “That boosted the number of check-ins by several hundred in this week alone,” he said.
With the system in place, Graham says, the only limit on new features is the staff’s imagination. For example, adding pages that turned to the library’s portion of the content was something the staff came up with over morning coffee.
“X2O is going to allow us to leverage video much more regularly and in a very stunning way,” Graham said.
The idea is that if the screens become a normal part of students’ and employees’ lives, then they’ll more quickly notice an emergency or weather alert. When an alert is issued, all the screens begin flashing red and key information is displayed; it takes about nine seconds to send an emergency message throughout the system.
Normally, however, each screen scrolls through about 15 minutes of content that includes news from University Relations, the Health Sciences Center’s Health Minute, and a video news program from the P.I. Reed School of Journalism’s broadcast students. Various schools around campus also have customized feeds that will feature more information from their area – for example the College of Business and Economics.
A few screens in the student union are focused on activities hosted by student organizations.
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