Colorado National Guard
Since the military was transformed into a voluntary force in the 1970s, there has been a major problem with retaining soldiers. However, the Colorado Army National Guard has found an innovative solution to encourage re-enlistment by utilizing digital signage from Tightrope Media Systems.
There are nearly 3,600 soldiers in the Colorado Army National Guard, and this number is constantly growing. The Army's forces are a great mix from the most modern and high-tech units, such as the Space Support team, to the classic, hardcore, hard-charging infantry units that harken back to its founding in 1860. Across the state, there are 14 armories, most located along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, while some are based in smaller outlying towns.
"We are constantly looking for ways to improve soldier retention," reported OC Edward Tuholske, Marketing NCO. "Our commander, Major Bert Pennell, started asking if we could use digital signage to provide our soldiers with better communication about career opportunities. The task force we started included two people from IT and two people from recruiting."
During the planning process, it was decided that each armory would be equipped with one flat-panel display in the common areas. There would be a primary focus on posting open job openings, which would be used as an incentive to encourage the soldiers to continue their careers within the National Guard. The system would also provide news about the National Guard, motivational posters, videos, and general information about the National Guard.
At an early stage in the planning process, it was evident that the team had a challenge that needed to be overcome. "Because of the sensitive nature of the information carried on the intranet that connects all of the National Guard facilities in Colorado, it is tightly controlled," Tuholske said. "We could not use it for the digital signage system."
A solution to this problem was to provide wireless data access through Verizon Express Network service so that the signage network could be connected. "Once this solution was designed, we made sure to select components that would function effectively with this system," Tuholske said.
After evaluating three alternatives, a team of experts selected Tightrope Media Systems' Carousel solution.
"We were immediately impressed by how easy the Tightrope system is to use and update with content," said Tuholske. "We liked that it is browser-based so that we could use the Internet to monitor the content on every display from our central office. This is especially important when some of these installations are a six-hour drive away from us."
The Guard chose the Tightrope Carousel Pro server along with 14 Carousel Solo 220 players, each of which feeds a 42-inch Sharp 42SB45U LCD display that is capable of displaying 1080p at the highest resolution. With the help of a Verizon Air Card, the players are able to connect to the network. "The Solo 220 player has an extremely small footprint so that it could easily sit behind each LCD even after the air card was installed," said Tuholske.
"The major concern for this type of system is the logistics and testing, not the actual installation of the product. Requirements were to visit 14 remote locations over an approximate two-week period. After installing each screen and Carousel player, we tested them locally to ensure they were functioning. Thanks to Tightrope, the implementation was no problem."
A significant advantage of the Tightrope system is its flexibility in choosing a screen layout. There is a message screen designed by the IT team, with the left half rotating between job postings, career opportunities, and motivational posters that are full-size. A section of the screen shows motivational pictures and videos, most commonly of training exercises, troop deployments, or special events at the local or national level. Each screen's bottom right quarter is divided into two equal parts. On the right-hand side of this screen, we can find the time and local weather information, while on the left-hand side, we have the contact information for the job opportunities and re-enlisting.
Furthermore, there are no licensing fees to pay each year, which is another advantage.
"The response to the digital signage system has been 100 percent positive," Tuholske said. "We are getting more and more requests from our commanding officers to add extra information to the digital signs because they see that more effective communication is improving the morale of our soldiers. Everything we have heard so far indicates that the signage system is improving soldier re-enlistment."
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