Purdue University’s Digital Signage Enterprise
Bunton Purdue
Thomas Bunton, associate director of HFS-IT (Housing and Food Services) for administrative Computing, at Purdue University, has helped to oversee the installation of digital signage across the university's four campuses that serve more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff.
Digital signage that serves 50,000 people across four campuses is big business.
By Daniel P. Dern

“HFS-IT’s mission includes identifying and expanding the use of information technology,” Bunton says. “This means we have to evangelize new technologies and the services they can provide, to get buy-in from our ‘clients’—the people in our department and the other groups on campus that we serve. As part of this, we have to see how the proposed new technologies and products fit into the overall campus infrastructure—not just the network, but also the physical facilities, and where staff, students, faculty, visitors and others would see and interact with them.

With the guidance and recommendations of HFS-IT, Purdue waded into the world of digital signage.

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For displays, HFS-IT selected 46-inch NEC P461 Professional-Grade-Large-Screen commercial displays, which include additional thermal protection and internal temperature sensors; support for video walls of up to 10-by-10 displays, and ambient-light sensors to automatically adjust brightness based on the external lighting, for optimal viewing and reduced energy consumption.

They chose commercial displays, as opposed to consumer-level displays, for several reasons.

“The upfront costs of commercial displays are significantly more than the ones intended for use as televisions or as computer monitors,” says Bunton. They’re more expensive for a reason: They’re built to run 18+ hours a day, and to function in hot, dusty environments, which are hard on components (cooling fans that can work whether the display is in portrait or landscape orientation help do that job). They have remote power-on/off control via RS232 or network connections, which not only saves power, but lets administrators power down a display while doing maintenance on the player PC so that viewers don’t see what’s going on inside the player while its being worked on.

Better viewing angles are also a critical factor, Bunton points out.

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