University of Wisconsin River Falls: Green Communications

At the University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF), the term “sustainability” is more than just a buzzword; it’s a concept the university puts into practice in numerous ways on a daily basis. The goal is set out specifically in UWRF’s strategic plan—“Model Sustainability Principles”—which says, “UWRF will model and champion the principles of sustainable community development.”

When the university opened a $34 million state-of-the-art student center, officials wanted the facility to serve as a flagship for UWRF’s comprehensive green initiative. A university digital signage system powered by Visix’s AxisTV digital signage software helped them meet that goal in a very concrete way.

In the past, the university’s numerous student groups relied heavily on paper-based communication, utilizing posters and large-scale sheets of paper to relay their plans and announcements, explains Nick Anders, the assistant director of UWRF’s University Center. The real challenge then, at the new student center, was to “find a method such as (green) digital signage that would allow autonomy for student groups in terms of getting their message out while at the same time fitting the sustainability profile of the building and the university as a whole,” says Anders.

UWRF investigated a number of digital signage options before settling on a Visix system. “We looked at a lot of other products, but kept coming back to AxisTV because of the front-end interface,” says Anders. With only two people maintaining the system and 150 student groups and 40 university departments possibly using it, ease of use and the ability to decentralize were key.

Thanks to AxisTV’s flexibility, the content management system allows student groups and university departments to log on and post the information themselves. After approvers review it, the information is immediately available across the system. “We’ve given each group its own ability to log in and take care of what it needs to do. It’s a pretty seamless process,” said Anders.

There are currently 12 LCD screens in the student center and four additional screens elsewhere on campus. “The strategy has been to place them where we have a captive audience,” explains Anders, in areas such as main walkways, behind the information desk and in dining halls. Screens are also deployed on the meeting room floor, where they are visible immediately as people exit the elevator, in order to orient them and let them know what’s going on in individual rooms.

In addition to student event advertisements, departmental messages and automated event schedules, news and weather feeds, the University Center has created its own channel to run on AxisTV behind the information desk, which it uses to market the services it offers.

Students have responded well to the ability to create and post content independently. “They really enjoy fact that they can make these messages at night in their room and post them from there, and by the time our approver sees it the next morning, it’s live and ready to go,” says Anders.

One of the most popular methods for creating content is via a program like PowerPoint and then converting that to a PNG file. “It looks great and keeps files small and uploads short,” explains Anders.

The positive response to AxisTV is reflected in the number of those making use of it. Of the approximately 150 student groups on campus, roughly 50 of them have live accounts, and over half of the university’s 40 departments are live on the system, according to Anders. “That’s just another advantage of digital signage—it’s easily expandable.”

The ability to help meet the university’s overarching sustainability goals, though, stands out in Anders’ mind. “It was initially quite a culture change to get people off of paper,” but with digital signage, Anders says, it’s been a “quick and easy” transition. “The fact that it meets our green initiative, for us that’s a huge advantage in and of itself.”