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Yale University: Complex Communications Presented Simply

Marilyn Wilkes, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Yale University’s Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, tells us how they came to digital signage. “I was over in the Anthropology Department and saw a screen displaying content for the department and thought that this would be a lot better than the bulletin board we were using in our lobby.” A few questions later, Wilkes knew that she wanted the AxisTV system as well.

The MacMillan Center is a prestigious component to Yale, offering eleven degree programs as well as offering interdisciplinary councils, committee and programs, and each year they offer over 500 lectures, conferences, roundtables, symposia, and art and film events. AxisTV digital signage software helps them present a modern approach to communications to their faculty, student, guest lecturers, scholars and visitors. “We do so many things,” says Wilkes. “We have the MacMillan Report – a video show and a streaming web show; we display room listings in one window, including wayfinding so people can get where they need to; we make digital posters, rotating every 20 seconds, which display in another window on the right; we have a weekly events schedule.” In a place as busy as the MacMillan Center, keeping up with everything going on can be a daunting task.

“Once a week, I gather information from our event database, both daily and weekly events, and then import that into the software,” says Lisa Brennan, Web Administrator and Graphic Designer. “Stills are either png or jpeg format, and any digital posters we make are designed with the display in mind.” She then schedules it all to the AxisTV system. “For the web show, we convert it to Flash, then use a Microsoft protocol for display.” In a nod to the former bulletin board AxisTV has replaced, they have nicknamed their system “The Board.”

At graduation time, the Board is also used to congratulate graduates on completing their studies. “We’ve also archived our web-based shows and display them when we don’t have too much happening,” says Brennan.

“It’s very versatile,” continues Brennan. “We have a number of different things up on the Board at once, all instantly updated. It’s really the only place we can consolidate everything and present it to our audience in a compact, concise way.” While the main focus is on the MacMillan Center, Wilkes is also aware of how what they’re doing fits in with the university as a whole. “It compliments what other departments are doing,” she says. “Some are using digital signage for things like shuttle schedules or to display the weather, but no one is really using it as complexly as we are. I want to take what we are doing and expand it to other departments.”