Creative Use of Technology and New Media: SAIT Polytechnic - Bronze Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 12. Creative Use of Technology and New Media
SAIT Polytechnic
SAITVIEW: Campus Digital Information System


Dan Allen
Director, Corporate Communications
Corporate Communications
1301 16 Avenue NW
N1106 Senator Burns Building
Calgary, Alberta T2M 0L4


Jorge Palafox Project Coordinator and Content Design/Layout
Dan Allen Project Designer and Strategist

SAITVIEW: campus digital information system

Description of the Project

When SAITVIEW arrived on the campus of SAIT Polytechnic in the spring of 2007, heads began to turn – upwards. Digital information screens mounted from the ceiling in 17 locations captured the attention of three key audiences: students, staff and supporters/visitors.

SAITVIEW is the newest tool in the multiple-vehicle communications program at SAIT. At a glance, SAITVIEW offers the latest campus news in 15-second billboard bites – just long enough to get up-to-date while waiting for an elevator, or on the way to class. While the website, newsletter, annual report and other tools provide in-depth information, SAITVIEW ensures that breaking news and internal marketing information is conveyed via an easy-to-access and engaging medium in strategically located popular gathering spots.

Resources and Planning

In June 2006, SAIT Executive Management Council approved the hiring of a full-time employee to manage SAITVIEW, along with the expenditure of $170,000 for the installation and operation of a digital information network for SAIT’s on and off-campus locations. This decision was based on:

  1. Supporting achievement of the following strategic priorities:
    Learner and employee satisfaction
    Curriculum excellence
    Employee engagement
    Institutional positioning
    Technology adoption
    Health, safety and security
  2. Achieving the following project goals:
    Sense of ‘SAIT community’
    Perceptions of SAIT as a high-tech, dynamic environment
    Awareness of SAIT educational opportunities
    Awareness of scope of activities contributing to entire SAIT experience
    Response capacity of SAIT in an emergency
    Profile of work of SAIT students
    Celebration of student and institutional successes

The SAITVIEW digital information system addresses the need to effectively communicate news and campus highlights with the 15,000 people on campus on a typical day, and does so in a way that underscores SAIT’s high-tech focus. Following ‘best practices’ visits to other North American campuses that use digital signage, and based on the project goals, SAIT conceived and rolled out SAITVIEW in 2007 focusing content within 10 categories:

Student resources, services, activities 35%
Student/employee event promotion 10%
Marketing of programs 10%
Student works and award recognition 10%
Institutional accomplishments/awards 10%
Institutional news and announcements 10%
Distinguished visitors and supporters 5%
Public service announcements less than 5%
Athletics promotion and results less than 5%
Security and emergency response less than 5%


The project required significant up-front funding in order to purchase and install the system, including 17 ceiling and wall-mounted screens. To maximize the use of resources, the project was developed in phases.

Phase one of the rollout strategy was designed to establish an institutional presence by ensuring SAITVIEW screens were present across the SAIT campus, and to saturate high-traffic areas that serve multiple disciplines. Selection of prospective locations for screen placement was based on: traffic, visibility, security, costs and architectural integrity. Phase one was completed in October 2007, following the installation of screens, five months of content programming and an evaluation of effectiveness.

Phase two of the SAITVIEW project, now underway, will further expand presence on all SAIT campuses, including:

  • campus residence default: TVs in residence rooms will default to the SAITVIEW information screen, much like a hotel TV will default to the hotel information channel when a viewer hits the power button
  • presence in all four SAIT campus locations
  • greater saturation in high traffic areas.

Phase three will focus on departmental presence with the option for SAIT departments to allocate funds in their own budgets to purchase screens that will enhance communication with students and staff within each discipline.


Immediate campus buzz from staff and students indicated that SAITVIEW was getting noticed and was a valued source of current SAIT news. A formal survey confirmed that Corporate Communications has met its communication and engagement objectives with this project.

  • One staff person and two paid students conducted in-person surveys with 186 random respondents (153 students and 33 staff members) over two days in October, 2007.
  • 56% of respondents correctly identified (unprompted) “SAITVIEW” as SAIT’s TV or digital signage system.
  • Among the 70% who said they watch SAITVIEW, the average viewing time was 25 minutes each week, which represents the consumption of 100 messages.
  • Three-quarters of those surveyed felt that SAITVIEW is effective as a source of information about SAIT services, resources and activities.
  • When comparing SAITVIEW to other SAIT communication vehicles, 81% of respondents felt it was the best or better than most.
  • Relevance of information was also rated highly by those who responded to the survey; 67% felt the information was relevant to them.
  • Recall of content was good. 23% recalled seeing information about student resources, services and opportunities; 19% remembered promotion of student or employee events; 17% recalled weather and time, while 13% recalled institutional news and announcements.
  • As further evidence of the power of SAITVIEW, SAIT receives at least one inquiry (and often more) every week from other post-secondary institutions interested in pursuing digital information networks.
  • SAIT was selected to host a digital signage symposium for post-secondary institutions in Western Canada in the fall of 2007, attended by representatives of 15 colleges and universities.