A friend of mine who is involved in a non-profit medical assistance organization asked me if I could have a look at the QMS (Queue Management System) and Digital Signage system the organization bought (for an awful amount of money BTW) and that was never installed/tested/configured/whatever by the supplier because the company went bankrupt (and anyway they were not capable of configuring the setup).
The system is (was) intended to be installed in a medical ambulatory.
The current situation:
I have available the actual hardware consisting of:
1) three small "brick" PC's, all of them running Windows 7 (but of course this can be changed), one intended to be a "server" and two intended to be "clients", bolted behind the TV's
2) two 32" LCD FLAT TV's
3) a "ticketing" kiosk, which upon visual inspection appears to be nothing more complex than a tablet (has to be checked but likely running a windows embedded or CE of some kind) and a thermal ticket printer integrated in a three foot tall metal stand/pillar.
4) A proprietary software (currently locked by a password) that has all the looks of being a (crappy) Access based *something*
The expected goal:
1) have the displays show 4 or 5 (anyway no more than ten) queue lines numbers (something loosely similar to the "We are now serving ...", one for each medical room and *something* else, let's say at the bottom the name and telephone number of the charity and a window with - say - a TV feed from the news channel.
2) have the counters of the queue line number be incremented or decremented by any (authorized) PC in the intranet (loosely one in each doctor's room + one at the reception
3) Have *somehow* the ticketing "kiosk" print tickets in sequence incrementing the printed number, divided for each queue
This MUST be free and as simple as possible, though foolproof is always a big word, particularly when fools are involved in the daily use of something, the expectation is for somethign that doesn't break easily or that is very easy to fix if broken.
I managed to contact the actual maker of the kiosk and I am expecting in a few days to be able to understand what is in it and what it does currently, but anyway I don't think that it will be much of an issue to simply replace the current "unknown" tablet with *any* suitable el-cheapo one.
I had a look around and it seem like there is nothing free/open-source that can do something like that in the simplest possible way, what I mentally imagined was:
- a (local) http server running on the "server" PC with
- a number of pages, each with an access or similar counter (which would be *somehow* incremented when a ticket is requested from the kiosk)
- a page to be served to a browser on the two bolted-on-TV PC's displaying the updated status of the various counters, the static text and the TV feed
- a number of password protected pages, one for each counter/room displaying just the current status of the single counter and a +/- button to increment or decrement the publicly displayed browser
- an "admin" page, also password protected with all the counters and a +/- and reset button for each (let's call it "receptionist page"
which BTW seems coincidentally originated from Italy, but that seems to me not simple (in the sense of simple) at all as it needs:
Apache 1.3 +
PHP 5.3.2 +
MySQL 4.1 +
and however, besides the total lack of documentation gives the impression of being as half-@§§ed as something I could probably write myself .
All the rest I could find are extremely complex "framworks", "Ultimate Digital Signage" tools and *what not*, a number of which stupidly "cloud based", some purely Commercial "masked" as Open Source, with only a few exceptions:
Vodigy (seemingly now defunct as a company) for which I have anyway as well no good feeling
which appears like nice but simply too complex and with a whole lot of complications both on the server and on the client side (I am not disputing that PHP/mySQL/JSON/SOAP and .net/Flash/IE/WMP etc. are not needed for the wide possibilities xibo offers, but they seem to me overkill and a possible cause of issues/problems for the very simple needs I have).
Same goes - at first sight - for Dashing:
If you happen to know a FREE, SIMPLE, NOT involved with the CLOUD, tool or site template or *whatever* that could be useful to reach the goal I would appreciate your help/suggestions/ideas.
As well if you have the time (and knowledge) to put together something that could do or help me in putting it together it would be highly appreciated, remember that the "end user" is a charity/non-profit organization .