Warren County (NJ) Community College recently installed a StrandVision Digital Signage system. We were impressed with two aspects of the installation: 1) A remarkably clear vision of what a digital signage system can do for a community college; and 2) a funding approach that relied on alternative resources.
Director of Institutional Research and Grants Lamont Rouse is the person who brought the idea to the college. He explained, “I was not familiar [with digital signs]. However, about six times a year, we meet around the state and we discuss different issues. And, at all of the colleges – the community colleges -- I noticed the growth and advancement of their digital communications systems. At some point, once the technology seemed to become ubiquitous in this sector. I began to wonder how I could bring that kind of system to Warren County Community College.”
Warren County Community College is a small but fast-growing community college with expanding boundaries – that includes not just students but a lot of non-credit and community events. Lamont knew from the outset that digital signs could help facilitate information throughout the college to students and to campus visitors.
He said, “I think that if you use the system properly, it helps promote brand identity, and you just can’t do enough of that. So, each time someone comes through our front door we have an opportunity to communicate with them.”
He started to research the relevant costs and benefits of digital signage -- What were some of the other issues -- Why do other colleges do it -- He also looked at how smaller community colleges can utilize it and whether there’s a model that could be followed. He commented, “I started to call the colleges that I was impressed with their digital systems to figure how it was set up -- Whose system they were using. I was also interested in their organizational design. In other words, who’s in charge of putting up the information? How does it work? Are there potential revenue streams? What are the cost/benefits?”
Lamont was fortunate to find an article on digital signage in University Business magazine called Digital Signage: Lighting the Way (http://www.universitybusiness.com/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=574). The article, which mentioned StrandVision, really helped frame the issue for him as he developed other research.
When Lamont was ready to buy, he started looking at specific vendors. “I checked out StrandVision and some of the other competing brands that do similar work and I just felt that StrandVision was a better fit for the institution at this point,” he explained. “StrandVision’s price was the best and it was functional for what we needed and would deliver almost all of the benefits cited in the University Business article.”
When it came to financing the purchase, Lamont was creative. “As the grant writer, I’m always looking for ways to cut costs. We’re a smaller community college, we have limited resources as most institutions do, we’re fast growing, which means that any resources that we have go into the classroom. ‘Learning is our business,’ as the college president says.”
“We really appreciate our funding sources. We use every dime for the purpose specified in our grants. I believe they appreciate that. We’re trying to show value and we’re trying to show growth in this area.
“So, when you’re looking at trying to fund a project like this, you have to find alternative resources. I was able to land a couple of grants on this issue. Also, when I approached student government, they were all for it – they were early adopters and they helped facilitate the growth in the project, too.”
Lamont does not want to give away his sources but does say that the project was funded in part through government grants and they are looking at private sector grants to continue the funding. “I’m always looking for ways to match A with B and I felt that we had a need. I could write a needs statement and I could show value to funding agents. It was a tangible product. You can see and touch a communications system, so I think this made it easier for me to facilitate the project.”
The digital signage system has been a plus all around. “I believe that the message board and the communication system being run by StrandVision presents an opportunity to advance our brand, to advance our mission, goals and values, and to promote the institution. I firmly believe that,” Lamont concluded.