The University of Surrey is an international university with a worldwide reputation for excellence in teaching and research. It offers students a unique combination of high academic standards, employment success and a prime location in beautiful surroundings, yet with ease of access to London. The University is one of the region’s largest employers with nearly 2,500 staff and 15,755 students living and working on and around campus. It offers over 50 subjects at the undergraduate level and provides both new and postgraduate students with a first-rate working environment and a lively social life. Surrounded by carefully designed gardens, vibrant green playing fields and a picturesque lake, the campus grounds provide a truly dynamic and enriched experience for all students, staff and visitors.

 

The Scope: 

The University of Surrey is one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the UK, known for providing an exceptional educational experience and access to the best on campus resources. A key priority for universities is discovering new and more effective ways to communicate key messages to students across campus, not only to share information but also to build a sense of community. An important factor in ensuring students take full advantage of University resources and are aware of events and school successes, is to make this information visible to them. The University of Surrey sought a way to improve communications with students and visitors that was both informative and engaging.

Students are a notoriously difficult audience to reach because of their busy schedules and preference for information to be delivered in a way that is timely and concise. Digital signage would allow the University to present this information at strategic, high traffic locations in a clear and engaging format that would appeal to the student body. The University believed this solution would satisfy the needs of a student audience and effectively deliver content most relevant to each faculty. Visitors would be able to benefit from the digital signage as well, as the University could display targeted welcome messages and other interesting information for visiting groups.

Another important consideration in choosing to implement a digital signage network was the fact that Surrey Sports Park had been selected as a training venue for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The multi-million pound venue, completed in the spring of 2010, provides a world-class sporting facility for staff, students, and the local community. Displaying dynamic content on the digital screens throughout the stadium will make the creation and distribution of information for events more effective.

The Solution: 

After careful evaluation and on the recommendation of Surrey's integrator, the University selected Omnivex software. The software would provide the University with an all encompassing digital signage solution to address their unique communication needs. "We were looking for something versatile and resilient but that did not rely on an external company to make changes to the content. The Omnivex software ticked all the right boxes for us," said Simon Loder, Technical Lead on the project for IT Services at University of Surrey.

University of Surrey photoThe initial deployment of the digital signage network was powered by Omnivex Display software. The software allowed Surrey to create, schedule and manage content for the campus wide network with little additional resources requirements. It included approximately 20 LCD screens installed throughout the campus and was used to  facilitate communication between the school and its students to contribute to their educational experience and increase awareness of on campus events and resources.

In 2009, the University migrated their digital signage system from Omnivex Display to Omnivex Moxie. With Moxie software, the University now has the ability to permission each department utilizing the digital signage allowing them access to update the content on the screens in their location with information specific to what is taking place in their department. Each department is able to create and manage their own unique content to ensure it is both timely and relevant. The University provides technical support for the software centrally through IT Services. This enables the faculties and departments to concentrate on the content on the screens making sure it is current, displaying pertinent information for each unique area it is located in.

Omnivex Moxie software also provides the University with the unique ability to integrate their existing Active Directory and network infrastructure into the digital signage network. The University of Surrey takes advantage of Moxie's user permissioning capabilities to restrict access for individual users, departments and faculties, to the component of the digital signage network relevant to them. This allows the University to have multiple content contributors, without affecting the overall network. This permissioning capability allows the University to departmentalize the digital signage network without having to monitor multiple systems throughout the campus, making managing the system much simpler. Additionally, each department has the ability to post timely information relevant for their audience, in real time.

University of Surrey photoMuch of the content displayed on the network is dynamic and changes based on the time of day or the event taking place at a particular location. Content includes all types of information, directional wayfinding, various media assets, local news and weather. Content is unique for each location, department or faculty using the digital signage across campus but also contains a consistent theme throughout. This helps to add context to the content being displayed and ensures its relevancy for students viewing the content in those particular faculties or areas of the campus. The University Library utilizes the digital signage network for a variety of applications. For instance a welcome screen in the front lobby is used to display unique content including building hours, services offered and advertisements about upcoming events. The content is visually captivating to attract the attention of passersby and has proven to be much more effective than the previously used posters and whiteboards. Similarly, the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences also makes use of the digital signage to display key faculty information for students, staff and visitors.

The digital signage has recently been expanded to include the Surrey Sports Park. LCD screens stationed at high-visibility locations display services, game schedules, menu items, sports-related and facility information. During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, the University made further use of their digital signage resources, as the screens provided Olympic and Paralympic athletes with wayfinding and other valuable information during their training periods.

The University of Surrey now has 36 screens, including interactive kiosks and Tweet walls, across the campus displaying a mixture of real-time and static information.

Results: 

Omnivex software provides the University of Surrey with a robust set of software tools to achieve their communications goals across a campus wide digital signage network. The software has the flexibility and scalability to manage many different types of media assets. It also has the capacity to handle a wide range of digital signage applications, all with one easy to use platform. There are also plans to extend the digital signage to include meeting room screens to aid with scheduling.

The University of Surrey has been successful in enhancing communications and knowledge sharing with their students, staff and visitors through the deployment of their Omnivex powered digital signage system. They have also created a stronger sense of an on-campus community, increased school spirit and improved awareness of school resources. "The students have benefitted the most from the new signage," explained Cynthia Echeverria, Training and Documentation Officer for IT Services. She continued, "They are the main audience for the digital signage and the group we were most interested in reaching with this initiative."

Due to the high level of interest and positive student feedback about the digital signage network, the University is now in the process of increasing the usage in existing areas like the Sports Park and expanding its use to a number of other departments including Marketing, Engineering & Physics, Civil & Chemical Engineering, The Centre for Communication Systems Research, and the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences. As well, digital signage is key consideration as new buildings are planned, such as the new 5G Innovation Centre building being added in 2014 or the new School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015.

Media enquiries: Peter La, Media Relations Office at the University of Surrey, Tel: 01483 689191 or E-mail: p.la@surrey.ac.uk