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Carousel Digital Signage Transitions UConn to Cloud-Based, Campus-Wide Communications

Connecticut
(Image credit: Carousel Digital Signage)

Carousel Digital Signage is continuing to streamline digital signage content delivery and management at the University of Connecticut (UConn). Recently, UConn upgraded its existing on-premise Carousel 7 system to Carousel Cloud, further simplifying the creation, scheduling, and management of messaging throughout its campus and regional locations. 

Brien Woodaman, AV technician and digital signage service manager at UConn, explained that the university began standardizing its digital signage systems in 2016. At the time, each department used its own homegrown solution, leading to inconsistencies in service offerings, scalability, hosting, and performance. “There was a lot of confusion, so there was a push to standardize,” he said.

The channel templates are super helpful in keeping everything consistent, and people who don’t have graphic design skills can easily create content and publish it.

Brien Woodaman, UConn

To address this, UConn deployed Carousel 7, Carousel Digital Signage’s on-premise platform, to deliver content in a more streamlined fashion. This provided the standardization the university was seeking, and the platform also addressed the need for a user-friendly UI. 

“The people interfacing with the digital signage systems weren’t graphic designers or technicians; they were office admins, faculty, or staff from different departments,” Woodaman said. “We needed something that was simple and easy to use, and that’s why we chose Carousel.”

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The initial Carousel 7 deployment involved 300 media players, and UConn has kept expanding through its transition to Carousel Cloud, which began in 2021. Today, there are approximately 700 displays receiving content from Carousel Cloud across the main campus, as well as six regional locations. Woodaman estimates there will be 800 displays by the end of the summer.

Connecticut

(Image credit: Carousel Digital Signage)

The university uses a combination of BrightSign and Apple TV players, as well as the webOS functionality that is built into its LG smart displays. UConn has deployed Jamf Now, a cloud-based MDM solution, to manage all Apple TV devices on campus. 

Thanks to Carousel’s partnership with Jamf, Woodaman extended the management capabilities to the digital signage system. “I created a sub-group that manages the Apple TVs that are running signage,” he explained. “When a new device is purchased, I just add that to the Jamf sub-group and push out the configuration, and it loads right into Carousel Cloud.” 

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The content displayed across UConn varies depending on where the signage is situated: Screens outside of classrooms display scheduling information, while department-specific displays run announcements related to scholarships, internships, and different work opportunities. Student groups also have access to some displays, so they can post advertising about upcoming events or even want ads for those seeking roommates. Carousel Cloud software provides options to use built-in templates for digital signage or upload pre-made content. 

UConn’s Carousel Cloud system also integrates with the university’s mass notification system, so the screens will immediately switch to displaying alerts in the event of an emergency, .

Content created by students is managed through a portal on UConn’s website, which features a submission form that asks users to provide information about file sizes and aspect ratios, as well as in which buildings they wish the content to appear and for how long. These completed forms generate tickets in the help desk system, and Woodaman’s team reviews these requests to ensure that they follow the university’s style guide. Individual departments that publish and manage their own content use Carousel Cloud’s scheduling feature to distribute messaging.

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Woodaman noted that the shift to Carousel Cloud has resulted in a more intuitive, responsive user experience. He points out that updates are issued regularly, enabling users to take advantage of new features. The cloud solution also facilitates administration and management on the fly. 

“If I’m not in the office at my computer, it’s easy for me to pull out my phone and navigate the mobile version to check on players, update content, and add users,” he said. “It makes for a faster experience.”

It also makes for more consistent branding. During its transition to Carousel Cloud, Woodaman worked with Carousel’s creative services team to develop three standard channel options with templates that incorporate the visual elements associated with the UConn brand. Even though different departments need to distribute their own messaging, there was a need for some visual consistency.

“Previously, it was kind of a free-for-all when it came to how people wanted their channels to look,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that it was more cohesive, and that you still knew that you were at UConn when looking at the displays. The channel templates are super helpful in keeping everything consistent, and people who don’t have graphic design skills can easily create content and publish it.”

Looking forward, Woodaman said UConn is considering the deployment of outdoor signage for wayfinding, as well as at bus stops to display schedules. In addition to everyday, informative signage, there are opportunities to take it further using video walls and marquee wrap displays. 

UConn’s AV services group is now part of the university’s IT department, which facilitates rollouts such as these, Woodaman explained. “Because we all work under the same umbrella, it’s easier to gain access to IT resources and to collaborate with the server group and the security team,” he said. “With Carousel Cloud, once it’s set up and the initial paths are created, there’s virtually no ongoing maintenance thanks to its IT-friendly operation. Everything is seamless.”

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