At The University of Sheffield a brand new, futuristic building born out of completely 'fresh thinking' concerning learning resources for the 21st century student, and aptly named the Information Commons (IC) was opened on 10th April 2007. The ongoing objective is to ensure the student facilities in the IC remain at the leading edge of student study, comfort and well-being. The IC has quickly become one of the most popular areas on campus with over 1300 study spaces, 500 fully networked PCs and a library with over 100,000 volumes of reference and short loan books including the most popular and heavily used undergraduate texts.
The internal signage to the building was obviously a crucial element of the design and the brief was to have a flexible and robust means of delivering a media rich building and general information point to everyone using the building through digital signage. This was even more important as the decision was made not to have any traditional signage in place until after the building had been open for some time.
However, the IC is spread over six floors so communication required special consideration. AV Manager Mr Ian Knowles from the University of Sheffield reviewed the range of potential solutions and selected a digital signage (DS) installation that targets all users of the building - staff, student or visitor - equally, with relevant information for all. Flash animation is used to create dynamic, eye catching displays.
When selecting a system, Mr Knowles established that the DS would need to display multiple channels of content with both local and remote control capability. It was also clear that a need for local browser-based text updates existed, and that this function would be actioned by authorised users and terminals within the six IC levels. In addition, all the new AV equipment needed to successfully network with existing infrastructure and previous installations.
The system chosen comprised 18 Century NTBs units from specialist UK DS manufacturer, ONELAN, combined with 18 Samsung LCD monitors to provide a network of remote and locally controlled display sources. The installation was completed in 3 working days and all the digital displays were showing content shortly after. The project has given the Information Commons a unique method of communicating with its users.
The IC building serves many needs of the student population including the CILASS on level 1 - two fixed space 'collaboratories' purpose built for inquiry-based learning. The dynamic display with multiple channel applications provided by the Century NTBs and viewed on the Samsung LCD units carries the relevant messages very effectively.
The IC with secure access is open for business 24/7, the students can study and view the digital signage output. Truely bringing students into the 21st century.