DMS Built To Create Directory Order From Facility Chaos

October 22, 2014 by Dave Haynes



I had a demo the other day of a really nice product called Directory Management Studio, software that enforces order on what can be the low-tech, chaotic business of staying on top of where things are in large facilities and passing that along in intelligent ways to the people who use those facilities.

The little Boston-area company behind DMS, Art of Context, does airports, health care and educational campuses, and other big, ever-evolving places like shopping malls. Their product crosses platforms and screens – from digital wayfinders to tablets and mobile handsets.

I got to know the company after seeing a presentation about what they’re doing with Logan airport in Boston. They’re also busily installing in another big airport they aren’t cleared to talk about yet.

DMS is described as a platform to easily manage your location data and drive content channels such as digital signage, web, mobile and print. It’s a purpose-built system for directory asset management that allows facility operators to maintain directories of any type in venues such as hospitals, airports, malls, resorts, museums and casinos.

The back-end has a unified XML data stream developed in-house that reduces the effort and cost of entering information in multiple systems, so when a shop in an airport changes location it goes in a feed that auto-updates all the relevant information, including location coordinates, across diverse channels such as digital signage, website, mobile and print directories.

The Art of Context guys told me very few large facilities have an kind of standardized tool to maintain information about their shops, services and locations. So they use stuff as low tech as Word docs, spreadsheets and even simple text files. When something gets moved or added, it can be a big, messy chore to get everything affected by that updated.

It’s a nice system and not meant as a replacement for a digital signage CMS, but instead as a resource. So the data could plug into a CMS the same way it might into a mobile app.


I like the thinking behind how it’s being applied at Logan – where travelers can find their gate on a touchscreen map – as well as dining and shops along the way – by scanning their boarding pass. You just walk up, scan your printed pass or smartphone screen, and up pops an animated route to the gate and suggestions on where to eat and shop along the way.

Logan has started installing beacons and extending information to smartphones, as well. One of the big drivers of the program is to make travelers aware and comfortable of the services and amenities in the airport. A lot of people who fly – particularly those who don’t travel often – tend to rush to their gates when they clear security and just stay there, as if the plane might leave early without them. Making them aware that there is time to eat and shop, and that they’ll get notified if flight arrangements change, gets people wandering a little more, and spending.

Cool system, sold as enterprise or SaaS. If you do large footprint facilities, it’s worth a look.

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