What is Concerto, exactly?
Concerto is a type of digital signage, which is essentially a fancy term for the use of screens, such as LCD TV’s, to broadcast specific messages about events, services, and other noteworthy items. But Concerto sets itself apart from many other signage platforms in a couple of big ways: it's free for anyone to use and deploy, it's designed in a unique way to facilitate the sharing of information across large communities, and it's written with modern web technologies and a useful API.
So how can Concerto help me?
Just take a look at how Concerto is being used today! The first, and most vibrant network encompasses the Troy, New York, campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). People at RPI use Concerto every day to advertise extracurricular activities, lectures and seminars, and unique offerings for the entire college community. Any student can visit RPI’s Concerto to upload graphic flyers. Concerto's unique philosophy encourages many different groups of students, faculty, and staff members to help moderate and maintain the network. Learn more about RPI and other ways to utilize Concerto here.
What does Concerto look like?
The most obvious sign of a Concerto network is a physical display, such as a flat panel television, that shows the Concerto front end. Concerto allows each individual display to look completely unique and deliver graphical and text-based messages that may be specific to a particular audience or location.
When and where did Concerto start?
Concerto started at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (also known as RPI), in the spring of 2008. It was the project of RPI’s Web Technologies Group (a student government tech skunkworks) to create a modern (and free) system to distribute announcements and information across campus without the campus-wide e-mail announcement lists and paper posters that characterized campus communication. The RPI network has since grown to over 30 displays.
Who's behind Concerto?
Concerto 2 is in development by many of the same people from RPI who began it in 2008, as well as some new folks who have taken an interest. We also have an active Google Group of users who are, in a way, all behind Concerto, in their efforts to help new users get going and to give input into future developments.
What do I need to get started with deploying Concerto?
You're going to need a web server to use for distributing content that can run Ruby on Rails applications and a database (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite,etc), for starters. For each public Concerto display, you'll need a computer with the ability to output video to an external display, as well as the display hardware itself. Luckily, that display can be most anything that interfaces with that computer's display port, including a whole host of HDMI-compatible TVs and pretty much every computer monitor out there. Learn more about deploying Concerto here.
How do I get involved as a developer?
First, download the code and try installing it somewhere. You can check out our code on Github and contact us to work together on code development. You can also contact us through the Blog. We're just starting out, so there's a lot of room for growth as our community gets larger. But you can be assured that helping out as a Concerto developer will be a rewarding, challenging experience.
Does Concerto cost anything to use or develop?
Concerto is released under the Apache Software License v2. That means that Concerto is open source software that you can redistribute and/or modify under the terms of the License.
In Use At RPI
The oldest tech university in the English-speaking world relies on Concerto every day to stay informed about on-campus events, deadlines, workshops, academic lectures, and pretty much everything else. Concerto is an information resource like no other that greatly improves campus-wide communication.
There are many ways to benefit from a Concerto installation. Learn more about how Concerto can fit well into your community.
The Concerto Project has only been possible thanks in no small part to the funding and generous support of many other organizations at RPI.