Northumbria University Puts Interactive Touchscreens in Common Areas

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Northumbria University, U.K., is a research-rich and business-focused university with a global reputation for academic excellence. Adding to their existing digital signage infrastructure, Northumbria installed interactive, integrated touchscreens in common areas to engage and inform students, thereby improving communications.

In addition to heightened engagement, interactivity has offered valuable insight into audience behavior, enabling monitoring of real-time click-throughs to measure efficacy of content and understand student behavior as well as interests in more depth.

Nominating Company: ONELAN, Reading, United Kingdom
Venue: Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Project: Northumbria University digital signage network
Category: Educational Environments

BACKGROUND
Northumbria University is always looking to diversify their methods of engaging with students to add value to their environment and remain competitive. Working in collaboration with Roche AV and digital content provider onemedia, ONELAN delivered a comprehensive signage strategy as part of an initiative to improve and modernize the University’s visual communication channels.

Utilizing their extensive network of ONELAN Net-Top-Box (NTB) media players, Northumbria moved towards a fully centralized digital signage solution with a network of HD100 players using ONELAN’s Content Management Server. Their improved network enabled them to deliver content via interactive hubs utilizing Northumbria’s intranet content. Displaying it in an eye-catching, user-friendly format is simple to navigate and can be measured for impact.

CHALLENGES
The overall project ran smoothly with all teams fully engaged from the outset. The only significant constraint was the short project lead time, with just six weeks from final project brief to implementation. Launch of the solution was to coincide with the start of the new academic year.

To deliver this within the tight timeframe, effective and consistent communication was critical. This required collaboration between stakeholders from the AV and IT teams and the facilities management department as well as the external teams.

SOLUTIONS
A clear project brief was key to ensuring the timeframes and milestones for the initial roll-out were achieved. Once the brief was agreed upon, no other elements were included to avoid any distractions from initial project timelines. However, any additional requirements were noted and allowed for, thereby future-proofing the solution.

As part of the initial brief, access to campus events, restaurant info, student union updates and sporting events was delivered. In addition, other buttons were included such as those concerning finance, accommodation, wellbeing and libraries.

Dynamic elements were then introduced such as live news feeds and weather updates. Then, a ‘Map Finder’ function came to help students find their way around campus. Using existing 3D maps of the university interior, students tap on the location required and the appropriate route map is presented, which is an invaluable tool for students during their first few weeks on campus.

RESULTS
In addition to heightened engagement, interactivity can also offer valuable insight into audience behavior. With this in mind, an analytic element was added that enables Northumbria’s content managers to monitor the campus-wide click-through rates in real time for analyzing the effectiveness of their content and understanding student behavior and interests in more detail.

“The Interactive information kiosks represent the significant and ongoing investment Northumbria University is making in transforming the student experience,” said ITSM Manager Jerry Mertz. “The introduction of this new digital communication channel has placed core student information on university services and events at their fingertips.”

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PROJECT PARTNERS
onemedia

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