3 benefits of digital signage for universities
By Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of government solutions at Hughes Network Systems, Llc.
Colleges and universities have a responsibility to keep students and faculty informed with timely updates and campus developments. From spotlighting campus events to showing highlights of Saturday's football game to providing daily cafeteria menus, schools have a wealth of information they have to share with a range of different audiences. Schools can take advantage of the latest digital signage technology to communicate quickly and effectively with staff and students.
An integrated campus-wide digital signage platform brings organizational communications into the 21st century, improves efficiency and ensures message delivery in an era when people (students especially) need a reason to look up every once in a while. The same state-of-the-art technology that's dynamically changing major industries across the country, including retail, restaurant and hospitality, can also help schools stay at the forefront of communications technology. Moreover, deploying or upgrading to a single campus-wide digital signage platform is an important component to reaching the potential of a modern communications infrastructure.
Campus administrators can use a unified platform to help campus visitors by displaying touch-screen options for FAQ and other general information such as campus maps and office locator applications on lobby kiosks. Another application that a unified system can deliver is faculty and staff training. With features like video-on-demand (VOD) and live townhall addresses from institutional or departmental leadership, schools can ensure everyone can easily access the information they need.
A unified approach
Many campus communications outlets consist of disjointed signage networks, an infrequently visited intranet or messy and over-crowded bulletin boards. For example, the college of engineering at a given university might have deployed their own signage system, which may be a completely different signage platform than the athletics department; meanwhile the finance building still has flyers cluttering a tack board in their lobby. That severely limits the reach of the messages and information.
This often results from one or more departments leading the signage adoption independently due to the absence of plans for a campus-wide implementation. However, colleges and universities that make the investment in a single, trusted, campus-wide digital signage platform find they can streamline critical information delivery, reduce costs and continuously deploy the latest technology and upgrades in an easy and calculated manner.
University often overlook the potential of these systems in the event of an emergency, and how effective they are at providing urgent updates and instructions across campus, all the way from the labs to the dorms and even to the parking garages.
Flexibility and immediacy
The most robust digital signage systems available today are those that include anytime/anywhere, cloud-based access to the content portal. With a single platform, the team implementing the system has only one service contract and customer support channel instead of different support groups and capabilities for various systems throughout the campus. What's more, with one system, IT support staff and content managers can benefit from a single interface that can easily control the entire network of screens while enabling customized content for specific audiences based on screen location.
The most advanced systems offer backend access through any connected device — a convenience and a critical feature for deploying emergency messages and notifications. Use of a secure and collaborative, cloud-based interface also simplifies management of permission levels and user access credentials for multiple groups or departments across the campus. Systems with high flexibility allow administrators from different departments to curate information that is pertinent to their target audiences, such as setting content specific to those who frequent any given building or set of buildings on campus.
This means that while IT may manage the entire network of digital signs, the English department can post a Shakespeare quote of the day on the signs in their building while the admissions office can promote upcoming student tours.
Efficiencies and cost-savings
For higher education institutions, a unified digital signage system can be highly efficient and even save money compared to a multi-platform approach. When compared to systems that are brought in to departmental silos, unified systems cost less per unit due to higher number of screens for a campus vs. a building or two. Moreover, a unified platform compounds savings over time when also accounting for on-going maintenance and upgrades.
Finally, deployment of a digital signage system is now more efficient than ever, especially when leveraging the latest SmartTV technology. With SmartTVs, the signage platform becomes a cloud-based application that enables sharing of resources and content calendars and can even deliver a live TV frame wrapped in customizable and dynamic information. In addition, with SmartTVs, all that is needed to install the screens is a mount, power outlet and internet connection. This easy-install approach allows schools to save on installation costs by deploying the system through their facility and IT teams if they are in a position to do so. And with everything stored and managed in the cloud, universities do not have to bear the brunt of storing multiple gigs of content locally.
Universities are already catching on, capturing student and staff attention with dynamic content playing on digital screens 8 to 10 times larger than the one in their audience's hand. As colleges and universities continue to adopt this powerful engagement technology, those that maximize their potential and ROI are the ones likely working with a single, unified digital signage platform — the 21st century way to simplify and streamline communications across campus.
Image via Istock.com.
Companies: Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES)