Many universities and colleges have the population, services and infrastructure to rival big towns or small cities, and going digital with campus signage is proving a particularly effective tool for communicating happenings to everyone on campus.

A variety of digital signage solutions — from simple digital posters to spectacular HD videowalls — are being used to direct, inform, engage and excite students, teachers, visitors and supporters. Here’s a look at where the technology is being used:

1. Outdoors and Wayfinding

College campuses can be bewildering for students and visitors, with dozens of buildings and endless twisting and turning corridors. That’s why digital campus signage both inside and outside are helpful for wayfinding, directions and scheduled or emergency messaging.

Super-bright, daylight-readable displays located at decision points like pedestrian gates, transit stations and parking garages provide mapping and notifications. Weather-protected units can provide interactive listings and directions and outdoor screens can use related technologies like QR codes or NFC to allow users to download walking directions to their GPS-enabled smartphones.

Inside of buildings, interactive touchscreen totems located in lobbies and other decision points mimic smartphone apps and functionality, providing directions, as well as room directories and real-time notifications of lectures and events.

Inside or out, campuses can link content management systems to emergency notification systems or security offices, enabling automated or rapid manual public safety notices to appear on all screens. For example, weather service notices of a severe storm approaching can be pushed in seconds to all screens, or information about a fire can be updated to screens in the affected and nearby buildings.

2. Dining Halls and Bookstores

For universities and colleges, this technology means dining halls using whiteboards and easels to inform students about specials and menu pricing can instead use smart screens that are easily updated and scheduled to change through a day.

For example, a cafeteria can dramatically revise its menu and promotions day to day, and throughout a day, automatically switching from breakfast to lunch menus and specials, based on pre-defined schedules. The screens can upsell complementary items and managers can easily remove sold out items.

Services offered out of campus bookstores can use the same kinds of smart displays behind its own order and check-out counters, as well as digital posters to promote high-margin items like college-branded hats, hoodies and coffee mugs.

3. Common Areas

Digital signage poster displays are being used in student union centers and other gathering points for general communications, promotion of special events and services, and at ticketing offices. They can also function as the modern-day version of student bulletin boards.

On some campuses, large LCD or fine pixel pitch LED walls are being set up permanently near seating areas as multi-purpose media screens. Through a day, they can be scheduled to run live news or sports programming — imagine watching the football team’s away game on a 25-foot wide Full HD screen — or used as the backdrop for lectures, guest speakers or even small concerts. Some colleges are also running moderated social media posts and images on these large screens, to highlight events on campus.

4. Classrooms and Administrative Spaces

Everything from interactive displays to narrow-bezel LCD videowalls and fine pixel pitch LED display walls are being used in lecture halls and classrooms to provide big visual canvases for teaching and collaboration. These setups can provide both staff and students the ability to project all types of content, and provide crystal-clear resolutions for easier viewing.

To coordinate room usage, entire campuses are investing in meeting room management systems that integrate with teaching and room booking calendars. The screens in lobbies, reception areas and outside of specific lecture halls, classrooms and meeting spaces show what’s scheduled, room by room, at specific times.

5. Event Halls and Arenas

Signage throughout sports and event venues, as well as alumni centers and museums, inform and engage fans. There are practical uses like menu boards at concession stands as well as wayfinding to locate seating, VIP suites and restrooms. But colleges are also using large-format LED screens and videowalls to welcome and excite fans at the entrances and in the concourses.

Furthermore, alumni centers are using video walls and interactive information stations to recognize significant donors, celebrate great athletes and commemorate important historical moments.

Getting Started

Digital signage is a near-perfect answer to the challenges of communication with thousands of transient students and teachers across an entire campus. To get started, a good first step is researching to see what other colleges have done and learned from their deployments.

Then, audit and identify the main communications issues and opportunities, and sort out whether digital signage solutions will address them. Once in place, decision-makers will immediately be able to the benefits they bring, the clarity they provide and the engagement they produce.

In order to fully reap the benefits of digital signage, understanding Total Cost of Ownership is essential.