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Queens College: Keeping Current, Going Green

Queens College, a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY), is often referred to as “the jewel in the CUNY system” and prides itself on its large and diverse student body. With more than 100 clubs and athletics teams as well as multiple arts and entertainment venues active across the school’s 77-acre campus, there’s a lot to keep up on every single day. With an eye on the times, Queens College President James Muyskens realized that with today’s tech-savvy students, the school needed to find an effective method of communication that students would identify with and respond to. The school decided that AxisTV digital signage software could provide just that.

“The President said that we didn’t really have a way to communicate with the students in the way that they’re used to being communicated with,” said Jeff Barnes, deputy Chief Information Officer at Queens College. After various tests and trials, Barnes said the school realized it needed something that would allow the owners of the system – the Office of Communications – to do the work in a way that was flexible and enjoyable. “We were looking for something that incorporated workflow, and we also needed something that would allow multiple groups on campus to have multiple channels of data that they could show in very specific places,” Barnes explained.

According to Barnes, several other vendors were considered, but “none of them had everything AxisTV had to offer.” AxisTV was particularly attractive because of the options it provided for communicating with students in unique, effective ways. One example cited by Barnes is the desktop component, which basically allows the school to push information out to the nearly 80 computer kiosks located across the campus via the screensavers on each PC, essentially turning each machine into an information point for news broadcast through the system. “Students are exposed to the information when they’re using kiosks or passing by the LCD screens” said Barnes.

The AxisTV system is also helping to achieve Queens College’s goals in the area of sustainability. CUNY is taking part in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Sustainable Green initiative, and by significantly reducing the school’s paper consumption, it is helping to make those goals reality. “Taking part in the Mayor’s green initiative means that we’re obligated to find ways to shrink our carbon footprint,” said Bob Suter, an editor in Queens College’s Office of Communications. “The AxisTV system is certainly a step in that direction.”

Today, the 36 42-inch dislays located around campus are helping to save significant amounts of paper, not to mention time necessary for distributing and posting everything. The screens are located in high-traffic areas around the college—in places like hallways, the student union, library, meeting rooms, the residence hall, the museum, dining hall, and the gymnasium, which has its own channel for posting information about special events and games.

The screens carry content in a variety of forms, including individual slides displaying announcements about all kinds of events happening on campus—everything ranging from plays produced by the theater department tohealth bulletins concerning flu season and precautions regarding the H1N1 virus.

The school can also show videos promoting student events and clips of stories concerning Queens College that have appeared in television news broadcasts. “When the work of one of our faculty is the subject of a five-minute segment on CBS Evening News, we want to share that with the entire campus community.” said Suter.

The decentralized nature of the system makes it easy for student groups and college departments to create their own content exactly as they’d like it and submit it for posting via an online submission form. “We encourage people to go online and submit their events, upload a photo and indicate to us their preference for where the content is to be posted,” explained Queens College marketing director Steve Whalen. The submission form generates an email to Suter, so he can review the content, draft text, and send it on to the Design Services staff who integrate graphic elements to create a slide. Suter then reviews it once more before posting.

The effectiveness of AxisTV is reflected in the high level of interest on the part of organizations and departments in getting information up on the screens. “The volume of requests is constantly growing,” said Adrian Partridge, who works in Design. “We get so many submissions every week, which shows that people really value the system.”

Going forward, administrators plan to use AxisTV’s flexibility and features to continually improve the delivery of information, focusing on things like scheduling capabilities, so that announcements go out to targeted locations at specific times of day.

In the end, it’s this kind of flexibility, which allows users to adapt the system to their needs as things change, that makes AxisTV so attractive, according to Barnes. “It’s just a well thought out, rock solid product.”