Up North Digital Network: Digital Signage for Beaver Island


 What’s the Up North Digital Network (or UNDN)?  It’s a network of flat panel displays on Beaver Island and across at the ferry terminal and the airport.  They show event information from the WVBI/BIC Center Community Calendar and other community and visitor information.  They also show information specific to the location of each display.

How can I get information about my event on the UNDN? That’s easy.  Just post your event to the BIC Center/WVBI Community Calendar.  If you have non-event information for the UNDN, send an email to info@biccenter.org with the information.  We’ll be in touch about getting your information on the network.

How can I get a UNDN Display at my establishment?  That’s easy, too.  All you need is (1) a flat panel display with an HDMI input and (2) a small PC that can mount behind or near the display (we find Intel Compute Sticks to work best).  You’ll need two power outlets within reach of the display (one for the display and the other for the PC) and internet access (by Wi-Fi is easiest). You buy these and we’ll create the content, including a reasonable amount of custom content for your location.  This might be your menu, your schedule, product information or other content you’d like to show.  Plus, you’ll be identified as a UNDN member on all displays on the network and you will receive occasional display time for your business across the network.

What if my location typically doesn’t have visitors to see a display?  You can sponsor a display for use at another location where people gather and receive recognition and display space on the network.

Could I put one of these in my rental cottage?  Sure. You could install a dedicated display, or use an extra HDMI input on the house TV.  The display could show “house rules”,  information about how to use things and nearby activities. Of course, it would also let your guest know about all the great things happening on the island to help assure they have fun and come back to rent again.

I have public use PCs at my location. Can they display the network? Yes!  They can be setup with a screensaver that displays the network while the PC isn’t being used for something else. You can see an example of this setup at the Beaver Island District Library.

What does is cost? All you need to do is provide equipment.  Through the end of 2019 the WVBI and the BIC Center will create content (including reasonable updates to your content) and operate the system that delivers it to your display.  Beginning in 2020, there may be a charge to participate in the network to help pay for a person to develop content and operate the network.

Aren’t these things hard to maintain? They are pretty easy.  Every so often the PC may need to be reset, but generally they have proven to be trouble free.  If you have an older display, you may find that you have to restart the PC if you turn the display off, but that is as simple as pushing the power button on the PC twice. We’ve had a few instances where operating system updates have caused problems, but if you use a COmpute Stick for your PC, we have pool units to swap out for updates if that happens.  It’s been rare so far.

What makes the UNDN work?  If you mean what software do we use, the answer is XIBO.  XIBO an open-source digital display system with a central server and multiple clients.  We run the server (in a secure hosting facility) and the display PCs run the clients.  The software on the display PCs checks in with the server every 10 minutes or so to check for updates.  It doesn’t need a constant internet connection, so it keeps working even if the internet is down.   If you mean how do we get it all done, the answer is a group of people dedicated to promoting Beaver Island as a great place to live, play and work.  If you’d like to help out, we’d be glad to have you join us.  Just send an email to info@biccenter.org.