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Carousel Digital Signage Flips The Script

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Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western Colorado University’s nearly 3000 students—and the AV/IT team on campus—had long experienced mixed results with digital signage as a communications and advertising medium.

While there was strong motivation to use digital signage to promote events, news and other pertinent campus information, its success was hindered by a tough learning curve and a high-maintenance, point-based server infrastructure.

The tide shifted when James Young took charge of the IT team's AV responsibilities and learned that there was an opportunity to take the initiative in a new direction. "We have 10 buildings on campus that serve different functions, and one of my goals was to help these various departments cross-promote their events," said Young, AV Manager for IT Services. "That's hard to do when people are just advertising functions in their specific buildings, made more frustrating by the presence of dark TV displays across campus."

Young discovered the story behind why the TVs remained dark, and discovered it was the classic story of choosing the wrong digital signage software. It wasn't long before he was in discussions with Carousel Digital Signage to change the conversation about digital signage on the campus, choosing Carousel Cloud to both streamline the network infrastructure and simplify content creation and management. Western Colorado University has to date lit up 15 screens with lively, up-to-date content with the intention of doubling that number in time for the Spring 2025 semester. People have already noticed the difference.

"We have received positive feedback from faculty, and we see students regularly watching the screens inside the lounges," said Young. "What's perhaps most interesting is that we have integrated Carousel into our Board of Trustees meetings. I bring an Apple TV into the board room and show Carousel content on-screen before presentations and discussions commence. We are advertising key events that are generating more traffic through campus-wide promotion. We just finished a promotion for an art gallery exhibit that ran several weeks, and we are seeing more contribution from various departments on campus."

The flexibility and ease of use of Carousel Cloud software is a clear reason for the network’s success to this point. Young likes the ease of building playlists and creating schedules, which makes it easy to establish campaign lengths. The network has also become something of a help desk by publishing a QR code for students and faculty to seek assistance from the IT department.

There is also the ability to have fun with the network: For example, Young runs Carousel content in the on-campus movie theater through the projector to promote upcoming events, such as athletics. Students are also encouraged to bring their printed flyers direct to Young, who adds them to the rotation through the duration of each event.

Young added that the rollout has been seamless and the learning curve is almost immediate. The former can be attributed to Carousel’s partner with Jamf, a mobile device management (MDM) firm that works with Carousel to convert Apple TV devices into media players and secure the devices to prevent network intrusions and content disruptions. "Carousel actually crossed our radar through a promotion from Jamf," he said. "As Jamf manages our Apple products and we already had Apple TV devices, it made perfect sense. And operating our digital signage in the cloud makes it easy to manage the content and network from anywhere. It's a completely different world from where we were before."

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