Leveraging Campus Cable Television to Deliver Information
One huge benefit we have been able to leverage at West Virginia University in regard to digital signage and the ever-present Emergency Messaging capability is our own cable television channels that are “piped” to every student housing complex and many other campus buildings on all three Morgantown campuses. This option may or may not be available within your organization but we were able to maximize our opportunity to broadcast to a vast audience with this little trick!
WVU has a university contract with the local Comcast cable television provider to supply cable television services on our campuses. Early on in the development of our digital signage network we were able to harness the technology that permitted us to utilize Comcast Cable Channel 7 on our campuses. Since the cable company is connected to so many campus facilities we are able to interface our digital signage signal emanating from our Master Control Room data servers to the campus cable channel input before it gets distributed to all the campus facilities. We essentially have our own cable channels, at little or no cost.
Students can tune to Comcast Cable Channel 7 (analog) or Channel 72.1 (digital HD) and see our “live” loop of information on their personal televisions, especially in the event of a campus emergency! This allows us to serve more than 4,500 students living on campus in the residence halls with important information at all times.
It also permits us to save tens of thousands of dollars in equipment costs since we can deploy digital signage into areas or campus buildings that have the cable television infrastructure at their facilities with a simple run of coaxial cable to our monitors. It is as simple as adding another cable TV in your home. It saves us at least the cost of a custom built computer at each site if that site has the cable system in that building.
We deployed digital signage in the main front desk areas and student housing entrances of each of the student dorms and in all the dining facilities on campus using this serendipitous discovery of using the cable system that was already in existence. With the strong acceptance of high-definition digital television we are now looking to add Channel 72.1 for HD viewing, in addition to the standard-definition Channel 7, with a high-definition scan converter that acts as the interface between our Master Control Room signal and the main WVU campus Comcast Cable distribution amplifier. (After the initial tests of our new HD Channel 72.1 in August of 2011 the results were simply STUNNING! When toggling back and forth between the analog and digital channels the images were significantly sharper and remarkably crisp… and some of our graphics almost looked to have a 3-D characteristic! )