The enterprise digital signage deployment at Georgia State University (GSU) is a boundless endeavor. There are six campuses throughout metro Atlanta with approximately 55,000 students and 2,800 faculty and staff. GSU’s main campus occupies more than 60 buildings on 71 acres in downtown Atlanta. To adequately saturate the campus, the deployment is licensed for more than 300 media players, room signs and electronic paper signs to effectively reach its target audiences in crowded public areas.
Nominating Company: Visix, Inc., Norcross, Georgia
Venue: Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Project: Enterprise Digital Signage at GSU Reaching 55,000 on a Sprawling Urban Campus
Category: Education & Healthcare
The enterprise-wide digital signage deployment is managed by the Public Relations and Marketing department and serves as a visual communication medium to inform students, faculty, staff and visitors about the University, specific departments, events and more. In a world inundated with visual distractions, GSU believes that, without triggering personal devices, digital signage displays are one of the few vehicles capable of making a cognitive connection with transient audiences.
Information displayed includes, but is not limited to programs, meetings/activities; up-to-date weather information, social media feeds, campus news, television feeds; important current events; campus facts and emergency messages. The four main objectives of the deployment were to first, affect human behavior (increase event participation and reduce redundant directional or event related questions); second, provide alert communications in the event of emergencies; third, reduce the cost, trash and clutter of printed placards; and fourth, reinforce the University’s progressive vision to potential students.
In large state universities, schools for study often compete for students, faculty and funding. Evangelizing the technology throughout disparate departments reluctant to give up control to a centralized body was a challenge. Equally challenging was reconfiguring a large interdepartmental network with subnets and wireless access points to support the increased security and consistent playback required.
Once a department decides to commit to the technology, effective adoption is the next challenge. Departments allocate funds to join the signage network because students expect to be informed. The workload of keeping content relevant and compelling can, however, be overwhelming. Without editable templates or auto-updating content subscriptions, designing messages sophisticated enough to engage audiences can endanger the deployment. Building a standardized onscreen brand made this task easier.
Most importantly, as part of a multi-layered alert notification system, the digital signs needed to be compatible with CAP posts created by the campus-wide alert provider.
Auto-updating content is the most efficient way to deliver relevant content to an enterprise of this size. Universities traditionally deliver events, classes, presentations and other activities during scheduled times and locations. Data integration with disparate Event Management Systems allow the university to deliver up-to-date event information campus wide.
Students feel more connected when able to publicly express their opinions not only on social media, but on public displays as well. This feedback loop is most apparent in dining halls where students provide feedback on food services posted on public displays with staff responses.
Video walls and display clusters positioned in high-traffic areas effectively target larger audiences. A 100-foot by 20-foot NanoLumens video wall graces one high profile entrance. Printed placards and posters have almost been completely replaced with video walls, public displays, electronic room signs and menu boards in buildings, public venues, the campus arena and the new football stadium.
The results of this expansive signage deployment have exceeded expectations by reducing campus-wide poster printing costs by more than 40 percent over the trailing 12 months. Centralized control of media and playback devices has enabled a dedicated champion to expand campus-wide adoption 200 percent in two years and provided the university with the necessary leverage to lock in a site license saving tens of thousands of dollars in annual fees.
Earlier this year, the university opened the main entrance to the Creative Media Industries Institute to more than 150 industry professionals with the “wow factor” commensurate with the expectations of the facility staff.
The scope and effectiveness of the digital signage deployment has helped the university achieve its recent #4 ranking by U.S. News & World Report in the most innovative university category.
Editable wayfinding kiosks around campus have reduced redundant directional questions, adding to improved morale and employment satisfaction ratings.
Enterprise Digital Signage at GSU won a DSE 2018 APEX Award in the Education & Healthcare category.