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University of California Irvine: Getting Bigger, Getting Greener

The Campus Recreation department at University of California, Irvine is a very busy place. The department’s 89,000-square-foot Anteater Recreation Center houses a huge array of facilities and activities, including two gyms, a fitness club, a pool, racquetball courts and activity rooms where students can take part in everything from martial arts instruction to dance classes to cooking courses. Managing the constantly changing schedules for all the programs they offer and making sure that accurate information is available to students as soon as possible is a challenge, but one that’s been simplified considerably thanks to the department’s investment in university digital signage powered by AxisTV digital signage software.

In the past, all the scheduling and event information was distributed by paper signs on bulletin boards across the center. People had to make the signs, print them out and personally post them one by one at all the various locations throughout the facility. In addition to being time consuming, the process also used a lot of paper. When the facility went through a recent expansion phase, adding two activity rooms, a meeting room and a demonstration kitchen, it became even clearer that this manual system of printing and posting paper signs needed to be re-thought.

“It was a real process to print out paper signs for every activity that was going on in the center, post the information about each schedule individually, and keep that all updated,” said Suzanne Powell, Campus Recreation’s technology coordinator. “With AxisTV digital signage software it has become a lot easier to manage all this,” she continued. “And not having to print all these signs on paper, and reprint every time there’s a change, has helped us to be greener.”

Campus Recreation considered a number of digital signage options, but for Powell, with all the scheduling issues, AxisTV’s ability to integrate with databases was a key advantage over other systems. The center has a calendar it uses for scheduling, and information from that used to be imported schedule by schedule via the text importer into the system. With her web expertise, Powell decided to create a web page for each LCD screen. That way, all the schedules can be pulled up from there, already automatically updated. “There’s no uploading of schedules or anything like that anymore, which has made my life a lot easier,” explained Powell.

Upon entrance, visitors to the center are greeted by a 60-inch screen in the main lobby, which is devoted primarily to marketing content. Another four 42-inch LCD screens are deployed in front of the gyms and the pool, as well as in front of the wellness suite, displaying a combination of advertisements and schedules. There are also nine MeetingMinder™ room signs at the entrance to the activity and meeting rooms, primarily displaying scheduling information, along with some marketing.

In addition to making life easier and greener, AxisTV digital signage software has allowed Campus Recreation to do a lot more on the marketing side, promoting activities and boosting participation. The marketing content is created by the center’s marketing director and student staff in Photoshop or Illustrator, and advertises things like upcoming classes or special events that people have to register for.

Video content has also proven especially effective, according to Powell. “Films are made of certain activities, like dance classes or intramural sports, in order to promote them, and this kind of content really catches people’s eyes,” Powell said.

Looking ahead, AxisTV’s flexibility will help Campus Recreation meet other goals it has. Powell said one objective is to continue creating ways to automate processes via integration with software the center uses. For example, plans call for tying the MeetingMinders™ at the racquetball courts directly to the court reservation system, so when a reservation is made, that information is available immediately on screen.