Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities focuses on supporting the health and wellbeing of sick or injured children and their families. The Atlanta-area chapter adopted digital signage several years ago as an efficient way to communicate important, time-sensitive information with families, volunteers, and donors, though were limited by the capabilities of their digital signage software. The Atlanta chapter addressed these challenges by upgrading to Visix AxisTV Signage Suite, which was recently deployed at the organization’s Peachtree Dunwoody House and Gatewood House.
Communication of healthcare information is one important priority for all Ronald McDonald Houses, which are located close to leading children’s hospitals around the world. The two Atlanta-area Houses provide parents with lodging and accommodations so that they can stay near their hospitalized children without incurring additional expenses for hotels and meals. At the hospitals themselves, these families have access to Ronald McDonald Family Room – space where they can enjoy a few moments of respite in between caring for their children and meeting with medical staff. There is also Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a 40-foot-long, eight-foot-wide van that is a fully functional medical clinic dedicated to bringing asthma care to children where they live, learn and play.
At the Peachtree Dunwoody House, four side-by-side screens are positioned in a high-traffic hallway that families, visitors, donors and volunteers all commonly access daily. The screens display a mix of donor and event information, along with information on the story of Ronald McDonald House and its mission of serving families who need access to vital medical care for their children. The screens also run thank-you messaging to donors who have contributed and to volunteers who help there. The Gatewood House recently added a single screen to communicate weekly dinner schedules and organizational information.
Wendy Reiser Cromwell, digital marketing manager at the Ronald McDonald House Atlanta chapter, explains that the digital signage upgrade was driven by the need for a more streamlined digital signage system. “Our previous, on-premise system was very clunky and required a lot of troubleshooting just to get it to work properly,” she said. “If I wanted to update the screens at Peachtree Dunwoody, I’d have to block out an entire afternoon, which included traveling to the House to change out the content on each of those screens.”
In conferring with her colleague, Justin Littlefield, director of operations for the Atlanta chapter, Cromwell noted her prior positive experience with Visix at another organization and advocated for the acquisition of the cloud-based AxisTV Signage Suite. She now manages more than one screen or location at a time and update digital signage content from anywhere, including her home office, in a matter of minutes. This is especially practical, Cromwell says, when she needs to update the displays on the spot. “We can quickly post relevant messaging for last-minute meetings and gatherings, which is something we couldn’t accommodate with our previous system.”
Visix’s Nano digital signage media players are integrated behind the displays. Littlefield notes that the Nano players, which offer options for wired and wireless networking and measure just 2.75 inches square, were chosen for their ultra-compact form factor. “We have limited space between the four displays at Peachtree Dunwoody House, so they’re mounted on a plate affixed directly to the wall,” he described. “The power and network connections are right there, so they were very easy to integrate.”
Cromwell creates the bulk of Peachtree Dunwoody’s digital signage content in Adobe Creative Suite and then uploads it to the content management system in PNG format. “It’s so much easier this way,” she said. “With the old system, I’d design everything in Adobe and then I’d have to put it into a PowerPoint, convert that file to a movie, and then try to upload it to the system. Being able to upload PNG files directly cuts so much time out of the process.”
As a communications medium, Littlefield believes that digital signage enables Ronald McDonald House to tell a coherent story that connects the organization with its families, donors, and volunteers. “It allows us to share our history, and the impact of the work that we’re doing,” he said. “Anyone watching these displays is able to learn not only where we’ve come from, but how we’re fulfilling our mission and changing lives.”