Schools worldwide use digital signage to alert, inform, and educate students and faculty. Applications vary. For example, schools use digital signage to: promote events in schools; aid in instructional efforts or wayfinding; communicate important, up-to-date information; broadcast emergency alerts and instructions; and centralize the distribution and production of content.
With the many available digital signage solutions, finding the right one for your school might seem like an overwhelming task. But taking some time to research and understand your options will be well worth the investment. Follow these key steps.
- Define your goals and objectives.
What do you want to achieve? Also, think about scalability. For instance, how do you want the system to serve you long term? Putting up a screen in your school’s lobby certainly constitutes a big step in improving communications in your institution. But how will that hardware expenditure work when you want to expand? Approaching digital signage deployment in piecemeal fashion can be fiscally problematic.
- Clearly define the content.
The success of any digital signage system starts, of course, with the content. It must look fresh, exciting, and professional. Who will create it and how will it be presented? Do you have internal resources and expertise, or will you need to outsource content creation?
A good source of creative and editorial help can be found in aspiring graphic designers chosen from the student ranks, in addition to your school’s art department, yearbook and newspaper staffs, and TV studio (if you have one).
- Invest the time to understand your options.
Once you’ve decided on content, you need to consider the infrastructure that will deliver it and study your display options. For example:
- LCD vs. plasma
- RSS feeds
- Live video
- Dynamic content
- Remote management
- Playback verification
The options will seem limitless, so taking time to sort through them is important.
- Involve all the appropriate stakeholders.
The communications/information department should be involved at the start, considering that your digital signage will likely be used for external community relations. In addition to your district’s administration (superintendent, principals, and purchasing personnel), don’t forget to include instructional technology staff. This includes the AV department; maintenance and security staff; your curriculum, athletic, and cafeteria directors; and key school board members. Digital signage implementation also involves all the usual IT suspects: network and database managers, webmasters, and infrastructure engineers.
- Figure out how you’re going to pay for it.
When it’s used to simply advertise or promote school events, digital signage can be seen by some as a luxury item—particularly with shrinking school budgets and rising instructional expenses. However, since it can also be used as a tool for emergency communications and notification, administrators can easily make the case to their school boards that digital signage is a must-have component of any crisis plan—especially in this era when school violence incidents capture news headlines. Consider government and private sources of funding for your digital notification system.
And whether it’s kept entirely as an IT expenditure or distributed across multiple departments in your budget, you need a spending roadmap in addition to a developmental one. The hardest part with this may be determining the total cost of ownership over the life of the system, including any nickel-and-diming with ongoing licenses and upgrades.
- Decide how to implement the solution.
Based on your deployment size and scope, decide if you can implement it in-house or if you need the help of a professional integrator.
A number of “out-of-the box” systems can be set up with relative ease. But the more dynamic and complex the system, the more complicated the implementation and ongoing management—and the more likely you’ll need outside help.
Need help planning your next digital signage solution?
Black Box offers digital signage products that range from plug-and-play to highly scalable, sophisticated solutions. If you’re considering a larger deployment with a fully integrated network solution, enlist the help of a seasoned digital signage professional. Contact a Black Box technical engineer, or comment below.