Dallas Ministry Using Digital Signage To Help Homeless

November 19, 2012 by Dave Haynes

This is a nice little project to talk about this week, with Thanksgiving coming up.

A Dallas-based homeless ministry is using digital signage as part of its efforts to help that city’s homeless, with flat screens in Our Calling’s facility telling people about things like meal times, food distribution points and weather conditions.

“A lot of digital signage systems are used to offer convenience information such as the weather and social updates for customers in retail businesses,” explains Our Calling’s Pastor and Executive Director Wayne Walker,  “but for the homeless men, women and children who come to see us, it can be life-changing. Getting updates on freezing weather conditions or locations where food will be distributed is not about convenience, it is about saving lives.”

Our Calling also uses Rise Vision’s free platform to run news and sports, and the ministry is fine-tuning plans to integrate real-time information from a database, including notifications of where people stand on wait lists for using the shower and laundry facilities.

Walker says his non-profit group has to make feeding and clothing the poor the top priority, so finding a technology solution that fit Our Calling’s budget was tough.

“Most cheap technology solutions cost more in headaches and maintenance than they are worth. Once we found Rise Vision, we were very skeptical. However, our skepticism quickly dissolved when it worked. I don’t have any other words to say than – it works AND it works very well,” says Walker.

“It is very powerful, flexible and easy to use. Someone donated an old Dell laptop to us and I installed the ‘Player’ and it has run flawlessly ever since,” adds Walker.

Our Calling expects 1,000 people this week for a Thanksgiving meal, and the digital signage screens will be a key component in communicating to both the guests and a team of more than 500 volunteers.

Rise Vision has an interesting approach to the marketplace. Unlike some nutbars I won’t name who relentlessly yell IT’S FREE!!! in what amounts to a bait and switch scheme, the Rise platform really is free no matter what you use or how many licenses.

I’ve talked at length with CEO Byron Darlison about this and he says they can pull this off by being totally cloud-based and plugging in other services, but running a virtual office, and making sales totally inbound and organic. The holding company makes money day to day through the sister firm, Rise Display.

Longer-term, as the installed base really scales, Rise plans to make money through the licenssing of premium add-ons like analytics. The service works just finer without the add-ons, but they’ll be positioned as nice to haves.

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