Digital Signage as an Educational Asset
Feb 16, 2011 7:00 AM, by Steve Fox
Hudson County Community College’s Digital Signage Keeps Students and Visitors Informed
Hudson County Community College (HCCC) is one of the fastest-growing colleges in the northeast serving a diverse ethnic population in Hudson County, N.J. Its enrollment population has grown from 6,700 to 9,500 since 2006, and it’s expected to grow to 11,000 by 2012. Along with this growth has been a continuing commitment to expanding the college’s technological capabilities and increasing its focus on practical educational and career solutions for its burgeoning student population. In 2007, the college made an ambitious three-year technology plan intended to bring HCCC’s technology infrastructure up to the desired level. This plan provided a framework for systematic improvement and upgrading and was critical in improving and streamlining internal operations, providing greater student and faculty access to technology, and opening up the potential of distance learning. The plan included expanding the college’s information highway to include digital signage in key areas to keep students, faculty, and visitors abreast of the latest happenings, news, and emergency information on a daily basis.
“The college wanted to communicate to students more effectively, keeping them continuously informed of any changes in services, events, etc., around the campus. The college wanted the signage strategically placed around the campus, in various buildings, where students pass through on a regular basis, or where they wait in line for specific services,” says Vincent Zicolello, chief information officer for HCCC. To execute this vision, HCCC turned to Video Marketing Systems (VMS) of South Hackensack, N.J., to plan and implement the Gallery Digital Signage Solution at the Welcome Center. VMS is a premier reseller of the Gallery Digital Signage Solutions series. Working in a consultative approach with HCCC, the group also determined that Gallery Digital Signage Solutions would fit other locations throughout the campus, including enrollment services, advisement and counseling, the student lounge, and the financial aid office.
How the System Works
This complex three-month project required a collaborative effort between the IT departments of HCCC, the AV and digital signage specialists at VMS, and the general contractor for the project. Overall, VMS implemented its six-phased program focusing on customer benefits, solution design, configuration, installation, content training, and maintenance support. With TSG, HCCC only had to work with one established vendor to implement the enterprise signage solution.
“Content is done at each location to fit the unique needs of those locations, but the system is set up to allow for content management from a central location,” says Bernie Feuer of VMS.
The Gallery systems were not only installed by VMS but the entire process was a full turnkey operation. “They recommended and installed the equipment and worked with our building facilities staff for complete installation,” Zicolello says. “In addition, they tested the installed equipment and then trained the staff on how to implement the graphics and communications that would be displayed on the signage.”
The primary application for the digital signage was part of a new construction of the Welcome Center, strategically located in the heart of Journal Square—a major transportation hub with very high pedestrian traffic. The center, which serves as a place for new students to gather and acclimate to the college now has two Panasonic TH series series commercial 65in. plasmas operating with the Gallery system. The displays are visible to everyone arriving into Journal Square from the train station, many arriving in from New York. These units serve a marketing function and give the college tremendous exposure to the general population. Included are interviews with recent graduates who enjoyed their courses and experienced a real career enhancement. Professors, corporations, current students, and well-known people in and around Jersey City talk about their positive experiences related to HCCC. Once these units were planned, VMS approached HCCC about using digital signage in other strategic locations.
After discussions with the school administration, the college opted to have more Gallery systems installed. This included enrollment services, which now has two ceiling-mounted units, a 65in. Panasonic TH series display in the window, and 42in. unit on the wall; advisement and counseling, which uses its display to communicate key information for that department, as well as general information related to HCCC; the student lounge, which has a wall-mounted display near its entrance that promotes upcoming events and informs students of activities, schedules, changes, sports, and weather; and the financial aid department that displays important information regarding deadlines, filings, and other relevant information. All the signs offer the campus population important weather, scheduling, and emergency announcements when necessary. “We used the Panasonic TH series commercial-grade displays because they offered the best performance at a cost-effective price and enabled ease of integration for the wide range of units,” Feuer says.
The installation of Gallery Digital Signage has been a success on a number of levels including increased awareness and participation of school programs and an increase of college applications, exceeding the expectations of the administration.
As for the future, Zicolello looks forward to using digital signage in all future construction. “We have new buildings and locations being added to our campus within the 2011 calendar year,” he says. “These buildings will have this signage installed.”
The Welcome Center just had its official dedication, which included many local county city, state, and national officials including Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise, and has enhanced HCCC’s exposure in the region. With its strategic use of technology to enhance the daily experience of students and faculty, HCCC’s dynamic growth looks to continue well into the digital age.
Steve Fox is the president of Fox Marketing Services in Teaneck, N.J. and frequently writes about AV and video trends. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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