Case Study: Boston University

DIGITAL SIGNAGE PROVIDES BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW WITH A MODERN COMMUNICATION SYSTEM.

Client:Boston University School of Law
Project: Digital signage campus communication system for law school
Industry:Education
Providers: Aerva, Sharp

PROFILES

Founded in 1872 as part of Boston University, Boston University School of Law [www.bu.edu/law/] ranks among the top 25 law schools in the U.S., offering more than 150 courses, five concentrations and 13 semester-abroad programs. The school was among the first to admit women and minorities, and its distinguished graduates have gone on to become the first of their background to hold high positions in public office. The school is located in Boston in the heart of the university, where it occupies the tallest academic building on campus.

CHALLENGE

“Students definitely take notice of the displays. The live information grabs their attention much more than a static sign or bulletin board. And we put all of the displays in high-traffic areas so a large percentage of the student body has access to it every day,”
Wil Khouri, Director of Systems & Technology.

The Boston University School of Law needed a cost effective way to better communicate throughout the campus with the faculty and staff.
Like most universities, Boston University’s School of Law had several announcements that it needed to communicate to students on a daily basis, such as meeting times and places for student organizations, news, information on campus-wide events, and special announcements like security or emergency messages.
Until recently, the school had been relying on old-fashioned announcement systems, including paper posters and bulletin boards. These methods were inefficient and required too much regular maintenance.

Existing Powerpoint-driven, single-screen methods did not provide the scale and robustness the university was interested in and lacked several important features. In particular, the system needed to support security alerts that could both be instantly activated and centrally managed. Internal attempts to create such a comprehensive solution did not scale to multiple screens or provide the attractiveness the university was interested in.

SOLUTION

In September 2008, after several months of considering various communication alternatives, the university installed digital displays to better disseminate information throughout the BU Law community.
These displays were installed in high traffic areas and in places where students tend to gather, including the BU School of Law’s main foyer and elevator platforms.
Boston University’s facilities and IT group handled the installation. Sharp Aquos 42-inch LCDs were used for the eight floors, with a Sharp 52-inch LCD used on the ground floor.
To manage the system, the school chose Aerva technology, which enables a university to become its own interactive but private broadcast network. University administrators are able to create, schedule and manage custom content, including video, text and images on flat screen digital displays.

A Boston University content group creates and uploads content onto the servers that BU hosts and each player is on the wired Ethernet network. BU cable is also fed into the Aerva players’ “video-in” ports so that a cable channel can be displayed on the sub-window portion of the screen at certain times. All playback, reporting, content management, scheduling and network management is done using Aerva’s AerChannel v3.9 software.

RESULTS

Boston University School of Law was able to better communicate with students and faculty in a way that is both captivating and efficient. The low-maintenance system also does not impact heavily on the school’s staffing resources.

  • It enables the university to easily create, schedule and manage custom content that is displayed on each digital screen, including student and staff profiles as well as a campus event calendar.
  • It displays a live feed of local and national news and weather using RSS tickers and “rolls”.
  • There is also a special region of the screen area dedicated to emergency alerts, the contents of which can be managed by the school’s security personnel.