Outdoor Kiosk Honors Montana’s Veterans Despite Frigid Temps

August 8, 2018

In these dog days of summer, we’re longing for cooler temperatures. Bozeman, Montana, is seeing more than its fair share of 90+-degree days. But residents know whipping winds and subzero temps are just around the corner. You have to be hearty to weather these extremes, and that goes double for the outdoor kiosk technology that people depend on year round. That’s why Advanced Kiosks offers a line of truly all-weather outdoor kiosks.

Bozeman’s Vietnam War Memorial

Back in 2006, a nonprofit called the Friends of Sunset Hills Cemetery Veterans Memorial started raising money to purchase a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit’s president and Vietnam veteran Don Derby is still in awe of the way the community came together to make their dream a reality. In just one year, they raised about $69,000. They purchased The Wall, which had been recently retired from touring the country for those who could not come to D.C. to pay their respects, installed it in Bozeman’s Sunset Hills Cemetery, and dedicated it just in time for Memorial Day 2008.

A Kiosk to Complete the Tribute

But Don’s vision wasn’t quite complete. He wanted an interactive computer kiosk that would quickly help people locate their lost loved ones on The Wall. It had to be easy to use and vandalism-proof. (They’d had trouble with vandals in 2015.) Most importantly, it had to withstand heat, rain, sleet, snow and 30° temps. Yes, you read that right: MINUS 30 degrees!

Don found Advanced Kiosks online and teamed up with our Senior Account Manager Chris Geddis to get the job done. Chris recommended the Transit Kiosk because it’s virtually indestructible, comes with a full metal keyboard, is easy to service in the field, and like all our outdoor kiosks, it’s completely weatherproof.

Chris helped Don get the most out of our Zamok software suite, which comes free with every kiosk we sell. They used Zamok’s Homepage and Layout Solutions to create an inviting user interface locked down to two websites. It turned out to be easy to help visitors navigate the 58,318 names on the Vietnam Memorial because it is an exact replica (on a smaller scale) of the national monument. The outdoor kiosk interface points to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Wall of Faces to help loved ones find their fallen heroes. The City of Bozeman’s cemetery staff worked to develop a second website that can direct people to the graves of the over 16,000 people (including about 2,400 veterans) buried at Sunset Hills.

Kiosk installation proved to be a snap. Don drilled the anchor bolts himself, and he estimates the electric and internet companies ran service to the kiosk in about an hour total.

What Makes Our Outdoor Kiosks Superior?

Some companies claim to offer kiosks that can handle the elements, but few are truly outdoor kiosks. Here are the three hallmarks of every Advanced Kiosks-approved all-weather computer kiosk:

  1. Fully sealed, rust-free enclosure: It doesn’t matter what weather is on the outside because nothing is getting inside these machines.
  2. Sunlight readable screen with auto-dimmer: Ever pulled out your laptop to catch up on work emails at the beach? Then you know it’s virtually impossible to read in sunlight; there’s too much glare, and the screen isn’t bright enough to overcome the sun’s powerful rays. That’s why the sunlight readable monitor is a must. The auto-dimmer senses when the sun has gone down and adjusts brightness accordingly so it doesn’t hurt nighttime users’ eyes.
  3. Wide Temperature Range Components: Each and every component inside our outdoor kiosks can handle temperature extremes. Of course each unit also houses its own heating and cooling system and is insulated for extra protection.

Chris tells a great story about the first time he saw the Sunset Hills Cemetery kiosk in the stone enclosure Don built for it: “I said, ‘Don, the kiosk doesn’t need that protection; it’s built to be outside.’ Don didn’t miss a beat. He said, ‘I know it doesn’t, but the people using it do!”

A Super Machine for the Wintriest Weather

The Sunset Hills Veterans Memorial kiosk is coming up on its one-year anniversary, and Don is very pleased with its performance thus far: “It’s a super machine!” He reports that the outdoor kiosk has been used by almost 400 people who have accessed over 5,000 pages.

Don told us a couple stories to help us grasp the severity of your average Montana winter. He said the winds are so strong, they have to replace the U.S. and Montana flags just about every month. Their Vietnam Memorial Wall stands about 6-feet tall at its highest point, and one particularly bad winter, the snow covered the top and drifted 40 feet out in front of it. “You couldn’t use a snow blower; it would just run up and ride on top. It took me, three other old guys, and my wife three days to shovel it out,” he recalls.

Last winter was one of Bozeman’s worst with temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below zero, and the Transit Kiosk kept right on ticking. “If it works through the winter here, it’ll work anywhere,” Don testifies.

The video below is from KBZK local news coverage last winter and includes a brief interview with Don.

Need an Outdoor Kiosk to Pay Tribute to Your Heroes?

Our self-service outdoor kiosks are simply the toughest in the business. That’s why we stand behind them with our standard Three Year Warranty. They put up with heavy use, abuse, and drastic temperature swings. There are many uses for outdoor computer kiosks, but if this story from Bozeman touched your heart, you may want to look into our TRIBUTE Kiosk Software. The TRIBUTE software package was designed to help you honor the special people who have given so much to make your community what it is today.

 

Written by Amy Robison, contributing author

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