Digital signage is one of those technologies that always seems to live in its own world, unconnected with everything going on in the building. To a certain extent, this makes sense. Historically, a sign is not something we think of needing to “manage” very often, whereas in our modern world, where signs are digital and everything is connected to the internet, things are a bit more complicated.
Of course, even before the rise of digital signage, there were still times when signs needed to be updated, and nowhere was this more true than in the world of conference centers and convention centers. There are people still around that could tell you the horrors of dealing with changeable letter boards and those annoying white letters. They would need to be updated daily in conference centers to let people know where their meeting is located. After all, no one likes wandering around the conference center looking for their event. People shouldn’t have to wander around aimlessly, peeking into different ballrooms to see if they’ve found their event or not.
While modern conference centers eschew the old letter boards for high-definition digital signage, the goal remains the same: to help attendees find their events quickly and easily. Addressing this need for conference centers provides its own set of capabilities and challenges that sets it apart from other markets. Corporate environments, for example, often address the need for scheduling signage by adding interactive scheduling panels with colored LEDs that allow employees to find open rooms and book them using the touch interface. For conference centers, however, the focus is not on availability and booking, but on providing maximum visibility to help those wandering attendees quickly find their room. In these cases, digital signage is the preference.
This is where isolated digital signage can be a problem. After all, if you need to manually update your digital signage whenever there are changes to the event schedule, how farther have we gone from the letter boards? Instead, digital signage systems should be integrated into larger data systems, pulling info from existing databases to minimize manual handling of the data. Because it is connected to the room booking system, the signage updates automatically. There’s no need for hotel employees to copy and paste information from the schedule into the signage software.
Typically, this can take some amount of setup time. On the database side, IT managers need to ensure the data is visible by the signage system. On the AV side, the signage must be setup to interpret the data coming from the database. Depending on how the database is set up, the data sometimes needs to be parsed before it can be sent to the signs. This may sound complicated, but it is a common request for IT and AV managers and is a process with a lot of upside. You can also make the integration process easier by implementing software like AMX by HARMAN’s Resource Management Suite, which can integrate with a variety of room booking systems and provides a simplified scheduling data connection for signage.
Although integrating signage with the scheduling system can be a bit challenging, once the system is set up, displaying the daily schedule becomes an automated process with no ongoing costs for employees updating the signage.
Of course, this is just one example of how integrating signage into the larger AV/IT system can make things easier. For example, signage can be integrated with the same management software that manages the rest of the AV in the building. This monitors the signage hardware and the TVs themselves for technical problems, integrates the signage with the emergency response systems (so the signs can help people find exits when an alarm sounds), and automatically shuts down signs (so they don’t run overnight). You can also integrate signage with networked AV to display streaming content, as well as connect to content databases to display images and videos for advertisements.
With a digital signage solution that is built on a shared building-wide AV platform and integrated with the rest of your AV network, you can share technology resources and maximize the ROI.
How do you handle data integration on your digital signage? Comment below and let us know