Historic courthouse gets new gadget

Cleveland County Commissioner Darry Stacy demonstrates how to use a computerized wayfinding kiosk on Monday near the west entrance of the county courthouse.

An interactive, wayfinding kiosk now helps visitors to the Cleveland County Courthouse get where they need to go. 

A touchscreen provides animated maps to destinations such as the county clerk’s office or to courtrooms, and patrons can choose to have directions texted to a mobile phone so they don’t have to memorize memorize them.

County officials were aware that people visiting the courthouse were often confused and needed help. They’re hoping the kiosk will be a solution to provide the customer service taxpayers deserve when doing county business. 

“It’s a very disjointed building, and it’s very difficult for people to get around it, and we’ve tried a lot of wayfinding options,” said County Commissioner Darry Stacy. “Mostly, it’s because the addition was built half a floor off from the regular building. As we began to look for technology solutions, we came up with this kiosk.”

While the $38,000 investment sounds high compared to the old-fashioned office listings on the wall, it’s a one-time expense that Stacy believes will save money in the long run. 

“Several ideas were looked at, including hiring a full-time host to help direct people around the courthouse, but the wayfinding kiosk proved to be the best investment for the county,” Stacy said. 

Often, people ask directions of security officers but that can hold up the line when several people are entering the building and going through the metal detectors. The kiosk also displays maps to key sites such as the county election board, fairgrounds and detention center. 

“In some cases, people come to the courthouse and have to be redirected to one of our external facilities,” Stacy said. “It will tell jurors where they can go eat or find a coffee shop. It tells you how to get to other government buildings in the city of Norman.”

The kiosk is ADA compliant for the visually and hearing impaired. When not actively being used, it displays various facts and county information or shows informative videos.

The kiosk is located at the west entry, and the county will look at adding one on the east side if this first one proves effective and cost efficient. 

“I know we haven’t utilized all of its potential at this point, and it will be a work in progress as we move forward but we’ve already seen big dividends from it,” Stacy said. “If we remodel, this is something that can be reprogramed to meet those needs. With this technology we are also able to provide public service messages in emergencies to employees and citizens. We can dynamically control what content is displayed and when it’s displayed. “

While the security guards at both entrances will still provide friendly human faces for people visiting the courthouse, Stacy said he believes the kiosk will add another level of service for patrons visiting the headquarters of the county seat.

Joy Hampton

366-3544

jhampton@normantranscript.com

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