“What does monitoring/maintenance look like from your end after integration?”
Monitoring and maintenance are regretfully not often discussed up front in a digital signage project. This is a very serious oversight somewhat analogous to an unexpected snake bite on wide-open trail. Monitoring and maintenance are both essential elements of a successful digital signage ecosystem. It is not a matter of IF there will be a hardware failure, but when. Today’s hardware is more cost effective and dependable than ever before, but digital signage is more often a 18/7 or 24/7 operation, and every piece of electronic hardware is susceptible to heat building up and other challenges caused by continued use or ambient conditions that expose components to elements of moisture and dust that can damage electronic equipment. That is why it is imperative that an organization investing in digital signage enter into a proactive service and support contract with a reputable and proven service provider — someone who understands the demands of servicing digital signage hardware.
Digital signage hardware, like digital signage players, flat panels, direct LED and projectors are often mounted in locations that require more than just a ladder to address a challenge. An organization will want to fully discuss expectations with the service company to make sure there are no unexpected surprises for either team. Many of the enterprise-level digital signage platforms also have the ability to monitor the health of their network players and even attached appliances like projectors and flat panels. They can provide a dashboard that will tell you if the player is off line and when it went off line. Be sure to ask the manufacturer or the integrator how the recommended CMS will let them know the real-time status of your network. Ask if their software can generate an email or a text alert about such challenges to those responsible for repair.
A commonly known, but little-used fix is the ability to plan the design and deployment of the network with the ability to remotely recycle the machine’s power. More often than not, this simple act of OFF/ON will fix numerous challenges. The reality is that many CMS manufacturers actually recommend a power recycle on a monthly or more frequent basis to keep memory optimized. This can be done in numerous ways. One easy solution is to have the player and components on an IP-addressable power strip, or some CMS solutions can be triggered to reboot remotely. Regardless, the time to think about monitoring and maintenance is in the planning stage when such solutions can easily be included, rather than having to go back and find a work-around later. It is worthy of the investment especially with widely deployed networks.
Some things are just common sense. If you are deploying a digital signage system in central Florida (known for the volume of lighting hits), it is wise to minimally put your systems on a serious surge protector or UPS. Just remember, you must configure your player machine to come back from a power loss and possible send triggers to the display to come back on and switch to the right input. None of this can or should be taken for granted.