How do I alert students in an emergency? Is there a way to highlight student, faculty and alumni success? Do we need digital signage displays (non interactive) or touchscreen technology? Would a combination of the two work best?
With the plethora of choices out there, it can be challenging to choose the right solution for your specific campus needs. Let’s explore the key factors in making the best choice for your campus, your budget and, of course, your users.
Determine Your Goal
Digital signage can be used for anything: literally anything. All the choices and upgraded features can be overwhelming. And, not every campus needs the same solution.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
Do you need digital signage to only convey emergency alert communications?
Do you need signage in a few areas, such as the cafeteria, library or student commons?
Are you looking for interactive technology or turn by turn wayfinding packages to assist visitors and new students to navigate your campus with ease?
Would it benefit your users to have an online version of your campus signage and wayfinding solution?
Create Internal Team
One of the most productive ways to determine your campus’ goal with digital signage is to create an internal team that includes members from the administration, faculty, staff and student body to get a solid representation of what each group looks for when they think of campus communication.
Each will have a different perspective and each is just as important as the next. Don’t waste time and money guessing what your campus needs. Ask the key people on campus who will be using the envisioned system, and they will give you all the information you need to take the next step.
Determine Your Budget
Digital signage solutions can start with price points in upper hundreds and escalate to the tens of thousands. For budgetary considerations, consider these questions:
Will you use institution funds or will you seek assistance from the institution foundation, alumni or grants?
Is your campus going to install all systems at once or will there be phases of installation as your budget becomes available at different times of the year?
It’s imperative to know your budget and when funds will be available to roll out your digital signage communication project in an efficient manner. Once you have the funding information, find a vendor who will work with you in getting the most compatible solution for your facility within your budget.
Determine Your Solution’s Functionality
This is when your team and your vendor hash out what you want and what their solutions can do. You should have a rough idea of what you hope your digital solution will do for your campus and those who use the system.
Your vendor will show you the features of their specific system that help you reach your continued goals. Digital signage solutions can be as simple as showing the menu and nutritional information in the student cafeteria or as detailed as turn by turn directions from one side of the campus to a classroom across the quad. Your vendor will help guide you so their available functions meet your needs.
Your internal team’s recommendations on the digital signage needs will help your vendor work further along the process as they help you determine the most highly trafficked areas with the broadest reach for the selected digital communication. Your facility management or IT team may need to be available to answer questions about electric, data and cable runs to potential installation sites on campus.
Determine Your Campus Installation Sites
The digital solution should be accessible to anyone on campus. Ensure that your digital signage solutions are meeting all ADA and Section 508 compliance standards by discussing enclosure options, various customizable software features and installation height requirements with your vendor.
If your goal is to ensure campus emergency alerts can reach the broadest base of your students, faculty and guests, you may need to explore a variety of touchscreen and digital display signage that can be switched to alert notification tools with one command from a central location.
Determine Your Production Details & Roll Out
Once your team and vendor create the ideal digital solution package within your budget, the vendor’s production team will work with you to build your custom system layout and functionality. During the production process, your vendor will also work with you on the system roll out including: ensuring site preparations are completed, coordinating equipment delivery to correct contact, and scheduling a technician to install the systems.
Your vendor should provide a technician that will ensure your systems are working properly before they leave the site.
Determine Who Will Manage Your System
Once the production and onsite technician complete the installation, the system will need a designated manager to ensure the data is updated and current for users. Your vendor may offer a data updating package where they will make the changes at your request. This option allows the manager to determine the needed changes and submit those changes to the vendor’s data team. The data team would then upload the changes to be displayed on the system.
Another option is to have a university staff member be assigned the role of data manager. The vendor’s customer support team will provide training in the digital signage post installation management with how to make changes, updates and deletions. The majority of vendors offer phone, email and onsite support (as needed) with updates and changes the assigned manager deems necessary.
Having an overview on what to expect in navigating the sea of digital signage solutions may help you narrow your search and fine tune your signage expectations. In addition to eliminating some stress along the way, all of these steps will also help you to save both time and money in the process.