Integrate a digital signage solution with real-time video systems and videoconferencing, it is the new trend for corporate communications. In Latin America they begin to be implemented.

By Richard St.

For a company that handles multiple locations, maintaining direct communication with their employees and that they are aware of all the news from the company, it can be an expensive task. The audiovisual industry began to provide solutions to these problems, with videoconferencing and telepresence rooms, then with digital signage.

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These two systems, videoconferencing and digital signage, working independently. But now they have been integrated to provide complete solutions to internal communications. Alejandro Restrepo, director of the Colombian Active Segment integration company, told AVI LATINOAMÉRICA what this new integration.

He said that companies use digital billboards for internal communication. But there is an alternative that is the real-time communication, which has an important psychological component is that people know, without thinking, that if you do not see it at that time and then not going to see, then it makes it more interesting.

Furthermore, data networks are not enabled for employees receive on their computers these video and audio information. That's where a digital billboard becomes an important factor because it brings together ten or more people before her who can see a real-time communication. But the premise is that they are companies with distributed offices.

"What are digital billboards when integrated with transmission systems in real time? For people to have an additional interest in viewing these billboards and receive a message you are sending them to the company. Hence the need to integrate digital billboards, which usually have a pre-programmed content, integrate a live broadcast, you can have multiple sources, such as a transmission of a television program, a football game, an event arises that it is the company performing via streaming or topic you want to communicate the companies from their videoconferencing systems, "he added.

Technical requirements
If the digital signage network from its beginning one was intended to enable this service, it is very difficult to enable it. Why? The network requires hardware that uses digital signage, digital signage players, already have certain quality characteristics for this time should be all in high definition, because it is what people are used to seeing. The data network must also be enabled to allow the distribution of videos.

Alejandro Restrepo gave us an example: "Imagine a seat that has 20 digital billboards throughout the building and if a video signal is sent to each billboard from another venue. That signal must travel over the network 20 times. So they should make adjustments in the networks to have teams that receive this signal only once and multiply by 20 on digital billboards, making friendly also to the data network. The new networks should have the right fit, either because be used immediately or because you are ready to use it in the future ".

This means that a company that has a digital signage network is not enabled with this system, virtually you have to reassemble the entire network to enable it, because the players do not work or the network does not have enough bandwidth, not they have the technology to distribute these video streams in networks that are in fact already very limited.

These integrated systems also depend on the type of technology that use provider networks that codecs for video compression used for transmission to maintain a good quality of video consuming low bandwidth, the possibility that multiply the signals on the same LAN, among other factors.

"And this is a very important issue. Many projects are stopped because the technology area familiar with the matter says our network will not endure. It is important to inquire for technologies that receive a single signal and multiply or transmitted in a single stream of video into a signal that can see all computers. These new technologies are already available and work in high definition, they are friendly to the network and allow you to give additional network services to use, "said the Director of Segment Assets.

Content management
For businesses, a digital signage integrated videoconferencing systems and real-time communication, require the creation of a department responsible for the generation of contents that are emitted, both in real time as the pre-produced. But if the company does not want to have staff dedicated exclusively to this topic, there are companies in the audiovisual industry to help supply it.

In the case of Active Segment, the company has the area of ​​digital billboard divided into two. One area of ​​technology and other content. "We have seen that there are companies that specialize in one of two in the market. But if one is not aware of the two, in the end the content is not appropriate because the quality is not good or because all you have to do a piece rather than take information from a database, integrating new technologies quickly to stream videos must have knowledge of data networks and streaming. All this combined is what makes it possible to have a good quality ".

Alejandro Restrepo noted that normally customers in the past they did was ask a certain number of pieces per month. Not now, today used is to build parts dynamically, reading information that is dynamic in databases and that it becomes as if by magic in very nice pieces that the client sees them very different but is a unique intelligent piece .

And this is an issue that is also presented in digital signage networks that are not integrated real-time systems. There are few providers that offer the complete package of integration with databases, with external communication networks, transmission of streaming in very good quality on billboards and even face detection, which identifies how many people came and watched or did not or whether it is a man or a woman and according to the individual issue you a content of interest. These technologies are highly developed and is easy to integrate digital signage network.

Active segment has several representative complete digital signage systems with integration of many technologies. One is the Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol, a company that transmits its shareholders among other events, all in HD quality and content combined with pre made.

And if the existing is a videoconferencing room that wants to integrate the new digital signage network, is it possible? In this regard, Alejandro Restrepo said that everything depends on the players you have and network data. These two factors are what determine whether the change is simple or complicated.

"We designed a system that connects natively with the video and forwards that signal to the different billboards. Therefore, I would lie integrating see if the players are able to receive the signal quality and the network also supports "he said.

This is a very new topic in the industry and very few installations in Latin America. Are shocking results of companies that have installed. In the case of a Colombian bank is a sponsor of football, had the need to see in digital billboards are sponsoring the games. Before they did was gather in auditoriums employees, now broadcast on its digital billboards and employees know they can watch the games in any hall.

Communications strategy
And this does not become a distraction for workers? In this regard, the director of Segment Assets stressed that this is part of a corporate communications plan in which not necessarily have to be telling workers what the mission and vision of the company. It is part of a strategy which seeks to motivate the worker, who feel good in the company, and part of that strategy is the moment of relaxation, positive messages, not just corporate issues. So often content are digital billboards that have nothing to do with the company but are part of the comfort they want to convey to the employee.

There are other cases in which companies videoconferencing and streaming are separated.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Journalist from the University of Antioquia (2010), with experience in technology and economics. Editor of the magazines TVyVideo + Radio and AVI Latin America. Academic Coordinator of TecnoTelevisión & Radio.


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