Screens to broadcast updates across campus

Students will soon be able to get up-to-date news, weather and emergency information while passing through the JDUC and 15 other spots on campus.

The University’s new digital information network will broadcast announcements, news tickers and emergency updates on LCD widescreen television screens.

Right now there are screens in Stauffer Library and Goodes Hall. Twenty more will be set up in various locations across campus by mid-October.

Last year’s AMS executive included T.V.s as one of their campaign promises but the project never materialized.

The University’s initiative is organized by Richard Seres and Robin Moon of the Department of Marketing and Communications. It’s part of a number of electronic communication initiatives on campus, such as the University’s website, the online events calendar and Queen’s podcasts on iTunes U.

Seres said planning for the screens began about 14 months ago, and they’re launching the project during the last week of September.

The cost of the system, which will be completely funded by the University, will be about $120,000.

“Really, it’s a key element to complement our overall communication network within the campus,” Seres said. “The strategy behind the program is to do a better job of informing and communication with people across campus.”

The project is just one dimension of the University’s different communication methods, Seres said.

“By having a real-time communication vehicle out there that’s on campus where people are walking around, those are all opportunities to communicate,” he said.

The department has looked at possibilities of having sponsors for the network, but there won’t be any advertising on the system, Seres said.

“It’s 100 per cent a system to communicate information by Queen’s, about Queen’s, happening at Queen’s,” he said.

After the first year, Seres said, Queen’s will determine whether or not to expand the system with screens in more locations across campus.

At that time they might approach sponsors to donate screens.

“What we’re going to be doing over the first year, really, is monitoring it and seeing the kind of usage that we get out of the system.” From a safety and security standpoint, the system will be useful in communicating information immediately, he said.

“The ultimate responsibility would lie with the Campus Security people … but there is a very distributed approach to managing this network,” Seres said.

A number of people across campus will be involved in maintaining the information broadcasted on the network.

Screens will display location-specific information in addition to posting information about different campus organizations.

The system will be updated on a regular basis.

“We can make sure that the information is as real-time as possible,” Seres said.

Seres looked at traffic patterns and habits of the campus community to decide where to place the digital signage.

He said the network will be monitored to prevent any unauthorized posting on screens.

“That’s definitely part of the investment,” he said.

Postings will be published by different campus groups, depending on where the screen is located.

Each sign will give students the date, time, and a three-day weather forecast.

A news feed from cbc.ca will highlight the day’s top five stories in national and world news, sports, arts, health and business. In addition, the screens will display Queen’s OnCampus and NEWSwire feeds, both available on the University’s homepage.

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