Monitoring, Management & Minimal Downtime.

In my opinion there is not enough emphasis on the importance of the maintenance of digital signage and kiosk networks and is, in my experience, an after thought for most. However, there are 3 vital ‘M’s that should receive careful consideration; Monitoring, Management and Minimal Downtime otherwise customer loyalty, and your brand’s reputation could be at stake.

So, if you mange a network – no matter how big or small – we would encourage you to read on to give you some options on how to prevent failures and protect your network efficiently. If your network isn’t already protected by such a system then it might be worth considering because you could face losing valuable time and money if problems go undetected and are not resolved quickly.

Digital applications are being integrated across all industries and sectors. Whether it’s a giant videowall in your favourite department store, a virtual receptionist at your workplace, a touch screen payment kiosk in your chemist or a digital touch screen in a hotel lobby, digital is cropping up everywhere and consumers are becoming more and more dependent on it.  That’s why it is so important that any issues with the hardware or playback of content is resolved quickly to ensure that there is limit interruption to service and damage limitation to your reputation.

So what kind of things could go wrong with your network? 

Typically, problems range from software bugs to hardware failures but they aren’t the only risk to network owners. Interactive kiosks and touch applications that connect to the internet carry a greater risk of being intentionally hacked or broken and therefore require a preventative measure to stop these threats from occurring and reducing the risks of external or unwanted content being displayed on your devices or the sharing of any confidential information between company and customer and visa versa.

There is a famous incident that took place in Moscow, Russia which involved a man successfully hacking into a video billboard and swapping the content with a pornographic film. A huge traffic jam began to emerge as a result and cause major delays across the city.

While many digital signage software providers have developed software to combat such technical and man-made issues, such as hacking, in our experience most solutions are derived from security software made specifically for home computing  and are geared mainly toward kiosk applications. Alternative software that focuses on digital signage can resolve software malfunctions but are not very efficient at detecting hardware issues or failures, like whether a screen is working properly and very few are compatible with both kiosks and digital signage.

The solution developed by Acquire – System Monitor – includes unit Watchdogs that prevent individual units from being hacked by putting the PC into a mode of lockdown that cannot be unlocked by normal users.

System Monitor by Acquire Digital is a comprehensive solution compatible with both kiosks and digital signage applications developed specifically to gain remote access, monitor and resolve issues across all devices around the world and can be used in conjunction with existing digital signage and kiosk software.  System Monitor is comprised of 3 main components:

1. Watchdog – this programmes sits on every individual unit PC powering your screens or kiosks included within your network

2. Site Manager – this is normally installed onto a central PC and is essentially the control centre for your network

3. The Plus Network – the Secure, fast network.

The 3 components of System Monitor solution

The 3 components of System Monitor solution

Included in System Monitor are nifty little features that have the ability to detect whether an LCD screen is actually on or not, record the temperature and space of hard drives, the status of hardware or additional devices, what software is installed and whether the screens are powered or not. If any of these problems are detected the system can automatically alert support staff via email or text message. This is a much more effective way of being alerted to issues and a lot nicer than receiving complaints from disgruntled customers.

Issues are also logged and whenever possible Watchdog will take remedial action to make the kiosk operational again. Programs and key services which fail are automatically restarted or the device itself is restarted.

Installed onto your HelpDesk centre to enable your staff to monitor and respond to issues across your network.

Installed onto your HelpDesk centre to enable your staff to monitor and respond to issues across your network.

Another advantage of the comprehensive solution is the ability to see content being shown on any screen at any time for that extra level of reassurance.  We estimate that at least 90% of issues can be resolved remotely by gaining reverse access to units so that valuable staff resources don’t  have to be placed on site. Obviously some issues can only be resolved by visiting the unit but at least system monitor can detect and alert you to problems rather than having to wait for a problem to be reported by staff or customers.

System Monitor is completely compatible with 3rd party software and is easy to integrate into existing systems and networks.

With all the potential risks and things that could go wrong, can you afford to have problems with your network? Or perhaps the question should be can you afford not to invest in a monitoring and management system?

Jaydev Bulsara