Digital Signage – The Requirements

Please read my previous post to get up to speed on our need for digital signage.

In previous signage needs for the children’s theatre here at First Church we used MediaShout 3.0 worship software to control our content we were pushing to our screens. By having a computer with a dual graphics card, a VGA matrix splitter, cat5e VGA extender, and VGA receiver we have been able to run a coupleĀ  displays off our children’s media computer. The price was great (about $600 on video distribution equipment, screens not included), installation was straight-forward, and it is easy to operate. However there are some disadvantages:

  • The cat5 cable extender must have a copper wire from beginning to end. True it can travel 1000′ however since our network closets are connected with fiber this means that I either have to pull a new cable to the media computer every time or only use existing cable runs that are already connected to that closet.
  • What if we move the media computer? The cat5 cable doesn’t move with it. This limits where we can create content.
  • The screens all display the same signal (which is also viewed in the children’s theater). There is simply no option for distinct media without distinct computers and cables.

As you can see, this model doesn’t scale well. Here are some requirements for the new system:

  • Must be centrally managed. Having to physically go to separate computers or screens is not a good use of our time.
  • Must be distributed over an IP network. This allows us to use our existing network infrastructure. Since we have 5 networking closets throughout the building, new cable runs will remain fairly short. Plus it gives us the option of using wi-fi as well. By adding an additional VLAN to our switches we can keep the traffic flowing nicely.
  • Must have the ability to schedule media to automatically display.
  • Must be able to have distinct ‘channels’ for each display
  • Be able to support saved video, live video streams, RSS feeds, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and images.
  • Ability to add new screens easily.
  • EASY TO USE!! Intuitive, fast, and user friendly. If no one can use the product then what good is it?

Based on these requirements we have chosen to partner with FourWinds Interactive out of Denver, CO. They were not the most expensive nor the least expensive. However, their software was the easiest to use and they really seemed to focus on the customer. Furthermore, they met and exceeded all of the requirements. Yes the multi-screen display board is an option! Andrew Daughters from their sales team was on the ball throughout the decision making process.

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