Case Study: West Virginia University

Emergency Alerts and So Much More

Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech University, WVU Television Productions personnel was tasked to develop a 24/7/365 information and emergency alert network that would span two WVU campuses in Morgantown, West Virginia, with both indoor and outdoor deployments. The WVU team immediately set out to create an innovative digital signage system that would assist in protecting the nearly 29,000 students and 7,900 faculty and staff members in the event of a campus emergency, as well as provide current information to the campuses. The system, which runs on X2O Media’s Xpresenter(TM) platform, gives WVU a robust model both for emergency alert notifications and for providing targeted and timely content over a reliable, redundant cross-campus digital signage network.

WVU installed seventy digital signage screens in key pedestrian traffic areas across the two campuses to provide campus-wide emergency alerts as quickly as possible. WVU’s Information Stations are powered by X2O Media’s Xpresenter.  As both an emergency alert system and a source of current campus information for WVU students, the ability to provide targeted and timely content was an essential element of this installation. For example, an alert of a broken water line at the WVU Law School would not be pertinent to the WVU Health Science Center. However, an alert for a gunman on campus would need to go to all screens. X2O’s content management tools allow WVU to manage all aspects of content playout, including building playlists, updating template information, and scheduling content delivery to any player or group of players on the network.

In an emergency situation, time is obviously an important factor. For fast results, Xpresenter provides WVU with a distinct advantage by featuring a dynamic, template-based approach to content, meaning the look and feel of the template as well as specific instructions, are all included in pre-built templates.   With Xpresenter, users can create full-screen emergency alert templates to their specifications ahead of time, and then need only to trigger the alert template when required.  When the template plays out, it automatically displays the latest information available.  In the event of an emergency, an RSS feed from the WVU Department of Public Safety switches the signage network into emergency notification mode. Driven by powerful databases designed by the WVU Information Stations team, screens display EMERGENCY alerts, along with current information and instructions until further notice, in as few as nine seconds.

To keep information fresh for students, while reducing the time spent by staff updating content, Xpresenter integrates with existing campus databases and calendars to provide students with up-to-date information on events, news, video productions, athletics, and much more. Different departments are able to update these databases easily with custom Web forms. The powerful Xpresenter Player broadcast rendering engine then delivers this content in the highest quality output.

WVU plans to make their digital signage system an even more interactive and engaging experience for students. The versatility and interoperability of the Xpresenter platform will enable integration with new technologies such as audience measurement from TruMedia, all while giving WVU students and staff potentially life-saving messaging.

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: Emergency Alerts and So Much More (PDF – 0.7Mb)