Ask the Board – March 28, 2016 | AMANDA GRABOWSKI


In what ways have you been able to exploit your existing digital signage network beyond the original business objectives to provide greater benefit than originally promised?

At the University of Michigan, digital signage was initially implemented to provide information (mostly flyers and event info) and wayfinding to the UM Community, but with the main goal of having a signage network that could interact with the Emergency Alert Notifications from the Department of Public Safety and Security. With our signage network, we are able to reach anyone in university buildings who may not be registered to receive emails or texts or who may not be aware of other notification modes in the event of an emergency. This would include patients at the UM Hospital, contractors, visitors, etc.

Since the initial implementation, we have focused on leveraging our signage software (Four Winds Interactive) to integrate with more sources of live data, and have turned signs into more interactive “real-time” business solutions that serve a variety of needs. Here are three examples:

1) Health Clinic Check In/Out

At the Northville Health Clinic, one of our satellite offices, digital signs are used in the clinic to tell patients which booth to go to in order check in/out. A toolbar was built (with XML code), and is loaded on each of the workstations so patients can check in and out of their appointments. It looks like this (minus some branding that they’ve applied):

  • If the agent at the workstation clicks “Available,” the station will show a green circle, indicating that the booth is open and available for a patient.
  • If the agent selects “Not available,” then a red circle appears next to the station number.
  • If the agent selects “Offline,” then the word “Closed” appears next to their station in yellow.
  • If the agent wants to post a custom message, they can enter it in the toolbar, and it will display the custom message.

The sign looks like this:

Health Clinic Check In/Out
2) Call Center Displays

At the ITS Service Center, there are multiple displays around the primary call center that allow the managers to see what’s going on with the calls in real time. Using the Four Winds Interactive software, we were able to connect to the Cisco telephone routing database (which required adding a special Informix driver to our infrastructure) that displays real-time call statistics. The screens look like this, and can be seen from anywhere in the room. In addition to the calls in queue, managers can see:

  • How many agents are logged in
  • How long the calls have been waiting
  • Service Level Agreement information and an overall total number of calls
  • If there are more than three calls in a particular queue, there’s conditional formatting applied to the layout to turn the number of calls in queue to red to be more noticeable

The sign looks like this:

Call Center Displays

3) Plant Operations Displays

Still in development, our Plant Operations Building Automation Services department has an antiquated system used to monitor chillers and boilers across campus. While Four Winds software couldn’t integrate with this system directly, the system is able to dump reports in a .csv format into a shared network drive at regular intervals. We used the software to point at the .csv file to display the temperature information with conditional formatting. In our development environment, the sign will display nine chillers at a time, and will turn the temperature red if the temperature rises above 45 degrees. This group also asked for a live radar, so that’s on the displays as well as a custom text ticker at the bottom of the sign.

The sign looks like this:

Plant Operations Displays

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Business Systems Analyst
University of Michigan

End User Council

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