2. What type of network is best for your requirements?
Once you have established the reasons you want to install digital signage, the next question to answer is what sort of network do I want to run the system on. Essentially the are three options. The first option is that you don’t run it on a network at all. Sometimes called “sneaker net” this option means that you are updating the content manually, generally by either replacing or updating an SD or CF card in a media player. The second option is to run the digital signage system over your company network. This is a good option in many cases as the infrastructure is already in place. The last option is to have a completely independant network running with something like a 3G network.
These are all valid ways of updating content, but which is the most suitable for your system?
Generally speaking non networked systems are suitable for customers who are not updating content on a regular basis, say only one a month or less. This can be true for brand promotions within the retail environment where the message will be the same for s long peroid of time. These non networked systems are also more suitable for clients only requiring full screen video or graphics as this will save considerable money whereby solid state media players such as the Digital View Viewstream range can be utilised instead of computers.
Networked solutions have many advantages, some of which include;
- They can be updated from a centralised location.
- They can also have their performance monitored. This applies for both the hardware as well as things such as playlist reporting.
- They remove the need to rely on staff at a local level to update the content as well as tell head office when something is not as it should be.
- Networked systems also generally have the ability to place multiple different layers of content, or zones, on the screen. Some of these layers can be dynamic which means they can be programmed to retrieve news from RSS feeds or weather reports. This increases the perception of all the content being current to the viewers.
- Generally the overall sophistication of the software with networked solutions allows much more to be done with digital signage, day parting for example.
The two types of networks which can be used are either your internal company network or an independent network such as a 3G solution. As to which you use will be more of a discussion with your IT department. Things to consider when deciding include:
- Security, Some organisations simply do not or will not have a digital signage system running on their corporate network. Banks for example.
- Bandwidth. If you plan to send large video files which you think may slow down the network and interfere with POS systems an independent network may be more suitable. Most software now however is clever enough to allow you to send content overnight to minimise impact on the network.
- Costs. If you already have the infrastructure in place it will be more cost effective to utilise this rather than setting up a new network.
Again this is another important area to consider when you are deploying a digital signage system. Think not only about what you want and need to achieve in the short term but think about future proofing the system also. Next I will discuss content, what sort, how often will it be updated and who will update it?