Digital Signage, Queue Management Tech Help Screen Athletes At USA Special Olympics

November 7, 2022 by Dave Haynes

The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando used a nice combination of queue management and digital signage technologies to manage a healthy athlete screening program set up to process as many as 12,000 athletes over the seven-day run of the event.

Special Olympics worked with the creative technology shop edgefactory, based in Orlando, on a program that helped facilitate check-in and screening for what was called the Special Olympics Healthy Athlete Experience. The program was established to provide free health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes, who in some cases struggle to access the medical care they need.

Says PR from edgefactory:

The impact of these screenings on the health and wellness of Special Olympics athletes is immense. The Special Olympics USA Games was expecting over 12,000 athletes and 600 doctors to participate in screenings over the course of the 7-day games, and needed to implement a queue system that would help athletes complete these critical health screenings in a fun and welcoming environment.

To ensure that the Special Olympics Health Athlete Experience ran smoothly and efficiently, but was also an exciting and engaging experience for athletes, edgefactory partnered up with Qmatic to design a queue system for the experience. The two main goals for this queue design were simple:

  1. Keep the athletes and caregivers organized;
  2. Keep the athletes and caregivers entertained with a branded experience.

Edgefactory integrated digital signage, creative media elements, physical signage and markers to make wayfinding in the Healthy Athlete experience intuitive and simple.

The company developed custom programming – different health, sports and fitness announcements – that showed on various TV screens around the venue. All videos were captioned and the text displayed was large, clear and easy to read.

It also used Qmatic’s line-up and wait room management tools to help athletes move through the exams seamlessly. “Each athlete was assigned a number that would appear in large size on the screen when it was their turn to head to an exam. The Healthy Athlete Experience offered screenings in eight disciplines, such as eye health, podiatry, emotional health, dentistry and more. To make sure that the athletes clearly knew which exam they were headed to, each number displayed on the main screen was accompanied by a color and symbol that coordinated with the discipline of the exam. If an athlete was up next for an eye exam, their number would appear on the screen in blue accompanied by an icon of an eye. Using coordinating colors and images helped keep clear which exams an athlete was heading to and allowed different athletes to wait in the same queue system but attend different screenings.”

Once an athlete’s number was called on the main screen, edgefactory paired the digital wayfinding signage with physical wayfinding elements so athletes had different kinds of cues to lead them to their correct destination. Decals were printed and placed on the floor with the corresponding color and icon of the discipline to help athletes ensure they were following the right line. Large signs with the coordinating color and icon were hung above the designated discipline so athletes could identify the correct section they were headed to. Using consistent color and icons throughout the digital signage and physical signage elements made it easy for athletes to identify where they were going and eliminated potential confusion.

Throughout the queue design process it was important to find different ways to make the experience for athletes as intuitive, accessible and stress-free. These free medical exams are highly important for the athletes so it was top priority to make sure that all 12,000 people who attended were able to move through the experience in the 7-day period available.

“What a great honor it was for us to produce world class content for these amazing athletes. We did everything we could through visualization the not only help over 12,000 athletes get medical exams, but also adding energy, emotion, and edge to the sporting venues with not only dynamic content, but an accessible TV channel on the games playing at all the venues with interviews of the athletes each day featured,” says Brian Cole, CEO of edgefactory.

Waiting in a line to receive medical exams can very easily turn into a boring or stressful experience. Using different kinds of both audio and visual media allowed athletes to stay engaged. Digital signage allowed the changing queue numbers to be displayed real-time so athletes always knew who was up next. Physical and digital signage with corresponding imagery ensured smooth wayfinding. After the event, the Special Olympics USA Games awarded edgefactory a medal for their help in making healthcare accessible to those who need it.

There are some distinct characteristics and dynamics at play with Special Olympics athletes, but this strikes me as the sort of thing that would be helpful at all kinds of events that see a lot of people coming in all day, and sometimes in waves.


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