How do you find digital signage content in Higher Education?
Spencer W. Graham, II MBA DSCE
At West Virginia University, we create our own content. The WVU Information Stations are a subset of Web Services within the University Relations Division; the main marketing and messaging arm of the university. The Division is comprised of the units of Web Services, News & Information Services, Video Productions, Photography, Creative Services and Trademark & Licensing. This permits us access to MANY wonderful designs being created for a myriad of current projects within the Division and we are able to re-task those designs for the digital signage to augment the messaging effort.
The WVU Information Stations network create relationships with individual colleges, departments and groups within the university to promote their own external and internal messaging. Content is created by their own designers or our staff designer. Custom loops of information messages are created for each campus site. (Currently there are more than 25 custom loops of information playing on a site-specific basis on more than 100 digital signs and video walls on our three Morgantown campuses.) Every design must be created based on specific design criteria and dimensions adhering to the approved WVU branding rules and within Trademark & Licensing guidelines.
All designs carry an approved WVU branding element(s) but also sub-branded to represent the client. (For instance, the College of Business & Economics has a “business look”, the Athletics Department has an “athletic look”, while the Chemistry Department has a “scientific look” in the overall design, etc.)
We can easily pull calendar of events data from their own campus calendar database and can pull their college or department Twitter feed, picture galleries, short videos or special event posters. Easy to use webforms allow the client to upload their content to their database and that content will play based upon the date and time they select it to be broadcast and also the end date to cease playing. All content provided by the client must be approved for appropriateness at the managerial level within their group before it is broadcast.
In the event that a WVU college, department or sanctioned group does not have a content designer, our team designer will assist them with a design they can be proud of for broadcast.
We never lack for good content given the endless things going on within our campuses. The clients love that they can control and “target market” their own messaging and content creation. They have the ability to get their latest message broadcast in the very next iteration of their content loop of information. Most loops are about 20-25 minutes in duration. Each loop consists of multiple “sequential pages” that display specific types of information for 1-3 minutes of duration. One “page” might be the client’s campus calendar information for 2 minutes, then transitions to the WVU Athletics page for 2 minutes, then back to the client’s picture or special event poster pages for 2 minutes, then transitions to the WVU Weather page for 1 minute, then play a 30 second video, etc. Each client-specific loop carries about 80% client-specific messaging and 20% general WVU messaging.
At all times an emergency messaging feature lurks in the background of every page in the event of a campuses crisis and can be triggered by the WVU Police Department with the emergency message displayed in under 10 seconds and explaining to the public what to do to protect themselves. (Evacuate a site, shelter-in-place or avoid certain areas.) Our network interfaces with the e2Campus software platform in coordinating the display of the emergency message. In the event of an emergency message being triggered, all digital signs display that message until the event is over as determined by the WVU Police Department. We maintain a redundant back-up and fail-over system with servers located on separate campuses on separate networks and power grids to assure the network performs in the event of a network or power failure at either server site.