Game Changing Tech in Higher Ed Digital Signage for the Future

DSE Advisory Board March 2014 Question of the Month 

Spencer W. Graham, II MBA DSCE

DSC_2061

                          What technology will be a game-changer for your                              business in 2014 and beyond? 

While offering my opinion through a Higher Education lens, I feel my observations will echo other vertical markets, as well.  I see the integration of touch-screen technology leveraged with campus wayfinding as something that will be on our “To-Do List” for the foreseeable future.  We launched our first version of campus wayfinding / touch-screen tech about 3 years ago and we are now in a position to vastly improve the experience with new technology and software solutions as the evolution has occurred.  We also target integrating Google Maps with this endeavor, as soon as possible.  With new students and daily campus visitors they often need to “find” a person or an office in a large building or on a different campus.  Also having the ability to text or email directions to their personal cellphone from the wayfinding deployment makes it very convenient

Too, with the advances in touch-screen technology and the content management systems on the market, we are seeing growing demand from the individual colleges within our university for Walls of Honor and Donor Walls.  You can only put so many brass plaques on the limited real estate on a wall before you either run out of room, or they become unsightly.  Additionally, you are limited on the number of words on a brass plaque that tell the grand story of the individuals you seek to honor for their countless contributions to the institution over the years.  Hence, digital signage comes to the rescue!  You can put it ALL on ONE digital sign!  Page after page, if necessary.  You can include their portrait, their biography and their wonderful story of why they assist the way they do. It can also include a video interview of them or and audio that accompanies the visual content.  It remains editable for revisions in the future, too.  The digital signage can be incorporated within the décor of the room so that it becomes a show piece!

I also think that new research and information, along with a deeper dive into the technologies and integration of NFC, QR codes and BLE will become topics of more intense discussion in the mobile realm.

 

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Challenges Facing a Digital Signage Network in Higher Education (DSE 2014 Handout)

Digital Signage Expo

February 12, 2014

The Sands Expo

Las Vegas, Nevada

Challenges Facing a Digital Signage Network in Higher Education

 

Protecting the Brand

  • What do you consider “appropriate content” for your public campus?
  • Venue specific based upon demographics of the site
  • Student generated content with administrative approval?
  • Who makes the judgments to protect the brand?
  • Enforce the branding elements at all costs!
    • Logos
    • Trademarks
    • Official graphics
    • Design Guidelines
    • NCAA Constitution Operating Manual & Administrative By-Laws
      • NCAA Division I Manual (Oct. 2013-2014)
      • Section 13.6.7.9  Prospective Student-Athlete’s Visit
      • “Activities During Official Visit”
      • “No arranged misc. or personalized recruiting aids (video or audio)”
      • Includes special additions to any location prospective student athlete will visit

13.6.7.9  Activities During Official Visit. 

An institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g., personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g., running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., hotel room, locker room, coach’s office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture.  (Adopted:  8/5/04, Revised: 5/14/05)

  Centralizing Network Authority

  • Who has the authority for network decisions?
  • Who should have the authority?
  • Control of hardware & software purchases
  • Negotiating better pricing for hardware and software
  • Continuity of content and message
  • Dovetail with total institutional message across all campus media

Editorial Control of Content

  • Who will maintain editorial control of all content?
    • Administrators
    • Your network team
    • The campus client
    • The advertiser (if you permit advertising)
    • What is the definition of “appropriate content”?

 Advertising Options

  • Yes or No ?
  • Are you forced to off-set network operating costs?
  • Revenue Generation vs. Budget Cuts
  • How much advertising will be allotted to total loop of information?
  • Will you allow full-page advertising?
  • What percentage of a content page will be allotted to advertising?
  • Will the school maintain editorial control?
  • Who decides the definition of “appropriate content” for your campuses?
  • What existing contracts are in-place that might limit certain advertising options?
    • Will you allow external logos?
    • Institutional Trademark & Licensing issues?
  • Does your content management system support proof-of-play reporting?
    • How often will ads play each hour and each day?
    • Who will be “the advertising salesperson”?
    • Who will handle the invoicing and collection process?
    • Will it force you to support a sales force layer of administration?
    • What will your charge for advertising “real estate” on your pages?
      • What demographics are you targeting for advertising?
      • Students
      • Faculty
      • Staff
      • Campus visitors
      • What fee will you charge for each ad?
      • What is the going rate per play for local advertising options?
        • Newspapers
        • Radio
        • Television
        • Websites
        • Social media outlets
        • Outdoor Billboards
          • Analog (paper)
          • Digital

Emergency Messaging

  • 24/7/365 ???
  • Fix “dark & busted” monitors yesterday
  • Assume a personal liability attorney is attached to EVERY monitor
  • Warranty on Monitors
    • Consumer Grade  30-90 days
    • Commercial Grade  3-4 years
    • Mean Time To Failure
    • Duty Cycle
    • Back-Up Monitor(s)
    • Who “pushes the button” for an emergency?
      • Office of The President
      • Campus Police
      • News & Information Department
      • Is your emergency messaging coordinated across all media?
      • “All Clear” follow-up message issued post-emergency
      • Quarterly Testing for all involved in responding to campus emergencies
        • Confirmation emergency message has been broadcast to network team
        • End of Test follow-up message
        • Call-down List during real emergencies and during tests (all media)
        • 24/7
        • Table Top Exercise is a great way get everyone to understand the dynamic of emergencies that involve many campus responders
        • Audible tone and message announcement during an emergency event or test

  Americans with Disabilities Act

  • Dimensions for wall mounts
  • Placement
  • Hallways
  • Monitors:  Horizontal vs. Vertical  (54″ to center line for touch interactive deployments)
  • Dimensions for touch-screen buttons on monitors
  • Dimensions for wayfinding
  • Audio
  • Closed captioning

  Budgets in Uncertain Times

  • How is your network funded?
    • Central administration funding?
    • State funding?
    • Client funds their portion of the network?
  • What is your annual budget for the network?
  • What proportion of any funding are you responsible to provide?
  • Are you factoring in eventual replacement costs for future budgets?
    • Mean time to failure (MTF) approximately 5-7 years on commercial monitors
    • Computers might last 3 years
    • Equipment power supplies (Have some spares on hand!)
    • Keep a spare monitor and computer on hand if you have an Emergency Messaging feature.  Assume a “dark and busted” deployment has a personal injury attorney attached to it if someone gets hurt during a crisis and you didn’t have that monitor in working order!

Presenter

Spencer W. Graham II MBA DSCE

Manager of Operations, WVU Information Stations

West Virginia University

As a Digital Signage Certified Expert (and digital signage evangelist), Spencer Graham has been integral to the creation of a very large, high-tech digital signage network at West Virginia University that spans four campuses with more than 100 digital signs, four video walls, wayfinding deployments and a 24/7/365 emergency alert feature in addition to standard WVU messaging and marketing on the WVU Information Stations network.

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Digital Signage Start to Finish… Easy Steps!

Ask the DSE Advisory Board Question of the Month

January 2014

by

Spencer W. Graham, II MBA  DSCE

West Virginia University

 

What are the steps someone can take to learn more about digital signage from start to finish?

Being tasked to begin working on any digital signage project can be daunting, however it can be greatly aided by understanding where to first look for answers to the numerous questions that naturally arise.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many resources are available to you!

 

1.)    Go to the Digital Signage Federation (DSF) website!  http://www.digitalsignagefederation.org/  You will find tons of valuable information there.  There are links to resources, education, white papers, webinars, and specific vertical markets you may be interested in.  If you still need information you are not finding, contact the DSF Executive Director (Brian Gorg) at:  admin@digitalsignagefederation.org or telephone 540-551-5500.  The DSF staff are eager to point you in the right direction!  Join the DSF and attend one of the regional networking events in your area.

2.)    Attend the Digital Signage Expo!  Every year tens of thousands of people network with each other at this conference where you can speak directly to industry vendors about their products, put your hands on the latest technologies, attend powerful educational and certification programs and meet face-to-face with people who can answer any questions you have.  This conference will pay many dividends to your digital signage effort and is a “Must Attend” event for serious digital signage operators.  Going to this convention will shortcut you research and development by months and save you thousands of dollars in the long run!  http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/

3.)    Jump on your internet search engine and search some of the following words:

  1. Digital signage
  2. Digital signage network
  3. Digital signage content
  4. Digital signage software
  5. Digital signage hardware
  6. Digital signage monitors
  7. Digital signage displays
  8. Digital signage mounts
  9. Wayfinding
  10. Outdoor digital signage
  11. Digital signage kiosks
  12. Digital signage social media integration
  13. Digital signage blog
  14. Digital signage reviews
  15. Digital signage RSS

4.)    Become a digital signage certified expert!  The Digital Signage Experts Group (DSEG) saying is, “All journeys begin with the first step.”  http://www.dseg.org/  The easy to understand courses are presented in a unique way that provides solid fundamental knowledge over every aspect of digital signage.  Their certification offerings include:

  1. Digital Signage Certified Expert
  2. Digital Signage Network Expert
  3. Digital Signage Display Expert
  4. SPEED II

5.)    Digital signage is everywhere!  When you see a digital sign in a local store or business ask the manager about how they handle their digital signage.  Often they will let you know who to contact in your local area for more information.

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Challenges Facing a Digital Signage Network in Higher Education (DSE2014 Roundtable Session Handout IRW18)

Digital Signage Expo

February 12, 2014

Las Vegas, Nevada

 Challenges Facing a Digital Signage Network in Higher Education

 

Protecting the Brand

  • What do you consider “appropriate content” for your public campus?
  • Venue specific based upon demographics of the site
  • Student generated content with administrative approval?
  • Who makes the judgments to protect the brand?
  • Enforce the branding elements at all costs!
    • Logos
    • Trademarks
    • Official graphics
    • Design Guidelines
    • NCAA Constitution Operating Manual & Administrative By-Laws
      • NCAA Division I Manual (Oct. 2013-2014)
      • Section 13.6.7.9  Prospective Student-Athlete’s Visit
      • “Activities During Official Visit”
      • “No arranged misc. or personalized recruiting aids (video or audio)”
      • Includes special additions to any location prospective student athlete will visit  

13.6.7.9  Activities During Official Visit. 

Previous Cite: 13.6.7.8 Normal Retail Cost.

Next Cite: 13.6.7.10 Professional Tryout or Workout Activities.

An institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g., personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g., running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., hotel room, locker room, coach’s office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture.  (Adopted:  8/5/04, Revised: 5/14/05)

 

 

 Centralizing Network Authority

  • Who has the authority for network decisions?
  • Who should have the authority?
  • Control of hardware & software purchases
  • Negotiating better pricing for hardware and software
  • Continuity of content and message
  • Dovetail with total institutional message across all campus media

  

Editorial Control of Content

  • Who will maintain editorial control of all content?
    • Administrators
    • Your network team
    • The campus client
    • The advertiser (if you permit advertising)
    • What is the definition of “appropriate content”?

 

 Advertising Options

  • Yes or No ?
  • Are you forced to off-set network operating costs?
  • Revenue Generation vs. Budget Cuts
  • How much advertising will be allotted to total loop of information?
  • Will you allow full-page advertising?
  • What percentage of a content page will be allotted to advertising?
  • Will the school maintain editorial control?
  • Who decides the definition of “appropriate content” for your campuses?
  • What existing contracts are in-place that might limit certain advertising options?
    • Will you allow external logos?
    • Institutional Trademark & Licensing issues?
  • Does your content management system support proof-of-play reporting?
    • How often will ads play each hour and each day?
    • Who will be “the advertising salesperson”?
    • Who will handle the invoicing and collection process?
    • Will it force you to support a sales force layer of administration?
    • What will your charge for advertising “real estate” on your pages?
      • What demographics are you targeting for advertising?
      • Students
      • Faculty
      • Staff
      • Campus visitors
      • What fee will you charge for each ad?
      • What is the going rate per play for local advertising options?
        • Newspapers
        • Radio
        • Television
        • Websites
        • Social media outlets
        • Outdoor Billboards
          • Analog (paper)
          • Digital

 

 Emergency Messaging

  • 24/7/365 ???
  • Fix “dark & busted” monitors yesterday
  • Assume a personal liability attorney is attached to EVERY monitor
  • Warranty on Monitors
    • Consumer Grade  30-90 days
    • Commercial Grade  3-4 years
    • Mean Time To Failure
    • Duty Cycle
    • Back-Up Monitor(s)
    • Who “pushes the button” for an emergency?
      • Office of The President
      • Campus Police
      • News & Information Department
      • Is your emergency messaging coordinated across all media?
      • “All Clear” follow-up message issued post-emergency
      • Quarterly Testing for all involved in responding to campus emergencies
        • Confirmation emergency message has been broadcast to network team
        • End of Test follow-up message
        • Call-down List during real emergencies and during tests (all media)
        • 24/7
        • Table Top Exercise is a great way get everyone to understand the dynamic of emergencies that involve many campus responders
        • Audible tone and message announcement during an emergency event or test

 

Americans with Disabilities Act

  • Dimensions for wall mounts
  • Placement
  • Hallways
  • Monitors:  Horizontal vs. Vertical  (54″ to center line for touch interactive deployments)
  • Dimensions for touch-screen buttons on monitors
  • Dimensions for wayfinding
  • Audio
  • Closed captioning

 

Budgets in Uncertain Times

  • How is your network funded?
    • Central administration funding?
    • State funding?
    • Client funds their portion of the network?
  • What is your annual budget for the network?
  • What proportion of any funding are you responsible to provide?
  • Are you factoring in eventual replacement costs for future budgets?
    • Mean time to failure (MTF) approximately 5-7 years on commercial monitors
    • Computers might last 3 years
    • Equipment power supplies (Have some spares on hand!)
    • Keep a spare monitor and computer on hand if you have an Emergency Messaging feature.  Assume a “dark and busted” deployment has a personal injury attorney attached to it if someone gets hurt during a crisis and you didn’t have that monitor in working order!

  

Presenter

Spencer W. Graham II MBA DSCE

Manager of Operations, WVU Information Stations

West Virginia University

 

As a Digital Signage Certified Expert (and digital signage evangelist), Spencer Graham has been integral to the creation of a very large, high-tech digital signage network at West Virginia University that spans four campuses with more than 100 digital signs, four video walls, wayfinding deployments and a 24/7/365 emergency alert feature in addition to standard WVU messaging and marketing on the WVU Information Stations network.

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Finding Digital Signage Content in Higher Education Settings

How do you find digital signage content in Higher Education?

By

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.

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Compelling Content without Breaking the Bank (Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board)

How Can End-Users Create a Variety of Compelling Content

for Private Networks Without Breaking the Bank?

by

Spencer W. Graham, II MBA DSCE

West Virginia University

Information Stations

 

Higher Education institutions often have more available resources than they realize within the length of their fingertips!  If the adage that “Content is King!” is true, then “Compelling Content is Supreme Emperor!”  Every design must compel the viewer to absorb the full message at the cerebral level.  We are bombarded by visual stimuli and messaging every day, yet only certain messages truly sink in.  What is it about your content message that makes it stick in a compelling way?

At West Virginia University, the University Relations Division is responsible for the marketing and messaging function, internally and externally.  The group is comprised of the WVU Departments of Web Services and digital signage, Video Productions, News and Information, Photography, Creative Services, and Trademark and Licensing.  Through coordinated efforts these sister units utilize cross-platform conversations in planning and distributing a consistent message for every university initiative.  They support the institutional message whether it be a daily event, a special event or an announcement in the campus daily email, on digital signage, the websites, the Alumni Magazine, print media, the national television advertising spots, student recruiting emphasis, or press releases.  As compelling content is designed in one medium, those design assets can be shared among the other mediums for an integrated marketing message and publication.  There is no sense in reinventing the wheel.  Content design can get expensive; re-tasking our current designs across platforms makes sense… and it is free!

Colleges, departments and organizations within the university have many wonderful stories to share.  By developing relationships with the key communicators in those specific areas, we work hand in hand with their own designers to promote their message in our various forms of media.  They feed the “Compelling Content Machine” with all the great things going on at West Virginia University on a regular basis; all we have to do is help them spread the word!  We have found that we never lack for compelling content for our digital signage by our offer of nurturing support to those key communicators. Often it is as easy as sending an email or making a telephone call when they have some important information to broadcast to our university world.  Inertia does the rest!

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Digital Signage Operating Policy (Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board)

Ask the DSE Advisory Board Question of the Month

December 2013

Do you have a digital signage operating policy, including content development criteria, and if so, what are the key components?

The West Virginia University Information Stations digital signage network created Policy Statements from the beginning and periodically updates them as situations dictate.  It covers such areas as:

  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Mission Statement
  • Definitions
  • Information Stations Staff
  • Network Overview
  • Content Creation Templates
  • Content Design Specifications
  • Content Design Elements
  • Client Expectations
  • Emergency Messaging
  • Technical Support
  • Installation
  • Legacy Issues

With specific regard to “content development criteria” we maintain total editorial control of all content.  If the university client (a college, department or sanctioned organization) has a professional designer on their staff, we assist that designer with exact criteria for all designs to be submitted for broadcast publication.  All design elements must abide by standards established by the WVU Trademark & Licensing Department in an effort to protect the WVU brand and the exact branding elements.  For the sake of standard and consistent design across all of our monitors in both horizontal and vertical aspect ratios, we have set the following criteria for design elements:

Horizontal Images

1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high

300 dpi

RGB

JPEG

Vertical Images

1080 pixels wide by 1920 high

300 dpi

RGB

JPEG

We maintain an addition digital signage platform that supports more than 350 campus student organizations.  These are a series of vertical monitors located in the student union commons area called The Mountainlair.  Since most of these student organizations are staffed by student volunteers with rudimentary content design skills we provide a more liberal approach to their designs, within reason.  They still must abide by all trademark and licensing requirements.  Our WVU Information Stations staff and associated administrators maintain editorial control of every design for appropriateness and brand protection.

Full-Page Graphics for WVU Student Organizations

1080 pixels wide by 1620 pixels high

300 dpi

RGB

JPEG

(WVU Student Organizations have a slightly different resolution to allow for a standard WVU Student Organizations banner across the bottom of each poster that associates that image to WVU Student Organizations governance.)

 

Other design elements that are regularly included in various pages of information and posters are:

  • WVU Calendar of Events (University, college, department or student organization)
  • RSS Feeds
  • XML Feeds
  • Text databases
  • Photograph databases
  • Videos
  • Video databases
  • Time
  • Date
  • Current and Extended Weather

Clients are required to maintain at least 8 current items in any database and items play based upon a beginning date and an ending date assigned to each item when uploading to our databases on easy to use template web forms.  Standard IT security is observed for all databases and web forms with usage of individual client credentials at sign-in.  All items created by the client must receive web form approval at the managerial level within their college or department before the item is published.  All WVU Student Organizations designs must be approved by the Administrative Director of WVU Student Organizations.

All video walls have distinct design criteria based upon the unique video wall configuration.  Video walls are installed at the WVU Visitors Center and the WVU Arts & Entertainment Box Offices.

All touch-screen Walls of Honor, Donor Walls and wayfinding deployments of digital signage are custom designed by the WVU Information Stations staff.  Content design employing these technologies is determined by the needs of the client.

We design for over 100 digital signs spanning three campuses in Morgantown, WV and our digital signage network includes standard horizontal monitors, vertical monitors for several video walls and WVU Student Organizations, as well as large video walls and wayfinding applications.

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