The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, Ga
Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez
Although digital signage has come a long way and is now a viable advertising revenue stream for certain kinds of businesses and institutions, the purpose behind many digital-signage applications remains fulfilling basic information-sharing requirements, rather than producing significant ROI. At 12Stone Church's new campus in Lawrenceville, Ga., getting the word out about the church's multiple ministry programs to its more than 4,000 members was a mission unto itself.
Meeting with Ron Stanford — systems advisor at dB Audio & Video — church pastors and members learned how digital signage could be useful technology for the campus.
“What we're doing is using the digital signage basically for information initially, because you're constantly expanding a system like this,” Stanford says. “In the long term, since there is a lot of traffic that comes in and out of the church throughout the week, we'll also be setting it up so that it's more of the vision of the ministry that's being played out on the signage.”
The digital-signage phase of the campus installation started last December, giving dB Audio & Video only a short time to install 14 42in. LG Electronics M4201C screens around the campus before the church's first service on Jan. 27.
Because multiple groups within the church would be using the digital signage to share informational video and content about their program or ministry, the most important feature had to be user-friendliness. With many turnkey digital-signage systems coming out, finding a system that would accommodate all levels of skillsets isn't as difficult as it once was, but the array of choices can still be daunting and confusing.
Stanford chose a Triveni Digital Ensignia Arena turnkey digital-signage system with three Solo networked single-channel, multiple-screen players for each of the campus' three zones. Although Stanford hadn't previously used the Triveni system in his digital-signal installations, he chose it after a little bit of research and investigation of the system — recognizing that not only would the system meet the demands of a condensed installation schedule, but it would be an easy system for the church members to learn and use.
“You can just walk up to this system and start playing with it and make it work, but we do have so many different people who need to have access to this system — I mean if the high school [youth group] wants to have their content, they need to generate their content; same with middle school and college [groups], and then the other areas of the church,” Stanford says.
Stanford says that if groups are given too much flexibility within a system, it undermines the purpose of the system. The Triveni Ensignia system provided just enough options for the ministry groups to create unique video and text content — using Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft PowerPoint software — for their particular activities. For example, the church uses the signage to post a monthly invitation to its Stepping Stone event, which is where new members can learn more about the church.
Although some digital-signage content is meant to be as rich and flashy as it can be, 12Stone's digital signage is currently humble. Most of the videos only have background music because the digital-signage displays are in locations where having audio doesn't make sense considering the din of the large numbers coming in and out of the building.
In some installations, additional digital-signage displays are added later. 12Stone officials, on the other hand, had a good idea of the number of displays they'd need to sustain the facility as it took on new members, so with the exception of maybe one screen being added to the on-campus coffee shop, 12Stone is currently at its maximum number of screens. Stanford says the church may add another channel with an addition of a Solo to provide content specifically to the children's ministry.
Although digital signage is a big player in the retail, corporate, and even education markets nowadays, the house-of-worship market has been slower to jump in. This is due, in large part, Stanford says, to churches just now becoming aware of the need and the value of influencing people in a video-driven society as soon as they walk in the door.
“If you're trying to communicate with people, especially content and ideas, the more variety of ways that you present — whether it's audibly, visually, or in written form — the more you do that, the more you can solidify that information in their minds,” Stanford says. “Especially when you're dealing with church people in a large church — you're trying to let them know about events that are coming up, so it's helpful.”
For such an intensive digital-signage installation, Stanford says there were surprisingly few obstacles. The installation happened prior to Triveni releasing its rackmountable Solo players. The rackmountable system would have made installation simpler. Instead, some of the church's precious control-room space is currently taken up by Triveni's earlier tower model. But Stanford says it's a small compromise given what the system has added to the church's infrastructure.
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