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A Networked Signage System for a Community College, Part 2

Apr 26, 2010 6:37 PM, By Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Using Keywest Technology MediaZone players and InfoZone media management Servers, the JCCC staff is able to easily add content to the digital signage network that includes the school’s three satellite locations.

Using Keywest Technology MediaZone players and InfoZone media management servers, the JCCC staff is able to easily add content to the digital signage network that includes the school’s three satellite locations.

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kan., has a digital signage network that covers the 234-acre campus and extends beyond with an emergency notification system and a lot more features. David Little of Keywest Technology is here to wrap up all the technical details of the installation.

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SVC: OK, David, in part one, we were talking about the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., and the campus-wide digital signage network that Keywest Technology installed. It really looks interesting the way they’ve got this set up. Obviously, they can do scheduling, and we’ve talked about the way that they’ve got the screens divided up into two rectangular areas for information and a crawling ticker along the bottom. The displays are serial controlled for turning them on and off and basically controlling the hardware?
Little: Yeah, that’s correct. We really did specify professional displays, and for multiple reasons. And one reason was because of the RS-232 control that is built into the panels, and so we’re controlling the displays—turning them on and off. We’re doing two things with the RS-232: We’re controlling the displays by turning them on and off through our system, but interestingly enough, we’re also reading the display so that we know, rather, it is on or off and, of course, that’s being used just in case it does accidentally or purposely get turned off. There’s an alert that goes back to the operators. [Timestamp: 1:53]

OK, so that’s what, serial carried over Cat-5?
That’s correct.

OK, so you’ve got your own hardware conversion situation for that?
That’s MediaXtender.

So, yeah, MediaXtender carries video, audio, 232, IR—all that.

And what make of displays are you using on the network?
We have in there 48 of the 42in. Hyundai displays and then there’s 22 of the 46in. Hyundais, and there was a small number of the LGs put in as well. [Timestamp: 2:27]

I can see that that’s a pretty extensive network, and from what I saw—I went to their website and I looked around and some of the articles that I saw about it—it looks like you’re not very far no matter where you are on campus. You’re not very far from one of these displays, so in any kind of a rapid-fire situation, say an emergency, they do have some kind of an emergency notification system in this?
Right, and that really points to another reason Keywest Technology was chosen to build this system—was basically based on the ability for us to modify our server system so that it would tie into the colleges emergency messaging components that they just had acquired. So this is part of a new public address system that they installed on the campus, and this entailed building some of the prescripted emergency templates for their contingency preparedness against tornados and fire alerts [and] things like that, but it also included a direct tie-in to their campus-wide public address computer. This is the computer that they’re able to type in a message and it sends SMS messages to the students’ phones, that same system. [Timestamp: 3:40]

Uh huh, we’ve got that on the campus where I work, and suddenly all the phones come alive and fortunately so far…
Exactly.’s just been a test. But yeah, that is out in Kansas, and that’s tornado alley, I guess they call it, and you can have something come ripping through there with very short notice, and I guess the public safety people are in charge of taking charge of that, right? They can take over control of the network?
Yeah, the campus is big enough that they have a public safety officer, and that’s what she does full-time. See, it was all about crucial seconds. I mean, it’s amazing that with emergency announcements seconds actually matter, so besides the ability for them to type their own message into this new public address system, it also monitors the national EAS system, of course, which we can respond to those alerts as well—which is similar to what you would see on television. [Timstamp: 4:34]

You explained a little bit about how the software works. How are the playlists edited and updated? Do you do that with the Media Creator application?
Well, Media Creator, the function of the Media Creator is the character generator, so that’s just the name of it. The actual content management is really done by the MediaZone editor, and besides the template manager that I have previously mentioned, it also functions for assembling playlists and scheduling them so all the content management is really done with the MediaZone editor. [Timestamp: 5:08]

OK, does this work with PowerPoint at all?
Of course. PowerPoint’s outside of MediaZone, the editor, but we’re compliant with most of the common media files that are being used out there. And when I say compliant, what I mean is we never convert to any video or any file format. We play all formats in their native resolution because we’re really blending pixels rather than actually creating a file format ourselves so we can play PowerPoint natively on our system and schedule the files. [Timetamp: 5:38]

Now they’ve got a lot of different channels, obviously, on this thing. What are carried on the special interest channels? I think [that’s what] they are calling them.
There are some extra channels. So besides the main campus channels, which is around the core buildings, there are also local channels that are being used in their Regnier Center, which is an art museum, and right off the Regnier Center is a 5000-square-foot conference and meeting center, so that’s a specialty channel because of the events that are going on there. Then there’s also the gym where the Cavaliers have their sporting events. They have a non-site children’s center. There’s also a police academy and the off-site locations are also considered special channels. [Timestamp: 6:23]

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