Franklin County Board of Supervisors: Extending Reach

In July 2011, Franklin County, Virginia ranked seventh in the Annual Digital Counties Survey for communities with a population less than 150,000 – their third year in a row in the top ten. Their innovative use of information and communications technologies has made this small locality, with a mere 56,000 residents, a force to be reckoned with. “Digital is just a whole lot easier,” says Sandie Terry, IT Director for the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. “It’s more dynamic.” They’ve been using government digital signs powered by AxisTV digital signage software to push content to their audience since the summer of 2007.

“We opened a new workforce development facility that year,” explains Terry,” and wanted to focus on economic development initiatives, and education and re-education of the local workforce.” In January 2009, they expanded the system to include the government center and a new branch library 30 minutes outside the town of Rocky Mount, part of the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area and seat of local government. This expansion included wayfinding and class schedules. “What we really liked was the ease of deployment,” says Cathy Thurman of the IT Department, the primary content creator on the digital signage system. “Visix has been in the business a lot longer than some of these other companies. The others may seem initially to be more cost-effective, but Visix gives us what we really need in the long run.”

They have a video wall at the government center that displays news, weather and bulletins. “You see it right when you walk in,” says Terry. “We also have scrolling text and historic photos of the area running off a DVD video, which the public just loves.” Each functional area for the public also has a separate display and there’s another display outside the Board of Supervisors room, with bulletins and the events schedule. “Everything I do is in PowerPoint,” says Thurman. “I create messages as jpegs, put them into PowerPoint, load that into AxisTV, and that’s it – the whole thing takes maybe 15 minutes.” She also integrates the schedule with EMS Workplace from Dean Evan and Associates. “What I love is that one server feeds all these facilities.”

Despite the recognition they have received for their efforts, they continue to find ways to expand their digital signage system. “I foresee this ending up in a lot of places,” says Terry. “The branch library was successful, so now we’ll go to the main library.” Thurman also says she wants to create templates for a more consistent message look. “We use it to direct people to face-to-face events, and we want to do more of that.” Terry adds, “The dynamic nature of it, and the simplicity from a technology point of view, really makes this a great system for our needs. AxisTV brings a lot more efficiency to the whole situation. Plus, it’s easy to use.”