Johannesburg-based digital media company, TBM, is developing its concept of using an existing digital highway to deliver tailor-made educational and training content to individually addressable South African Revenue Service (SARS) sites around South Africa.

TBM has traditionally focussed on offering clients focused, cost-effective digital advertising but is now capitalising on its capability of affording a broad spectrum of clients the benefits of a powerful communications medium - which essentially functions as their own personalised TV station - to train and educate their staff.

"We have successfully run an internal communications network for SARS with 92 plasma screens split between VAT, PAYE and regional offices, as well as border posts, airports and customs countrywide, for the past year.

"We, at TBM, are now looking to take the concept a step further by expanding into other local government departments and possibly even other governments in Africa, as well as donor organisations that want to conduct staff training, need to begin interacting with people, or generally want to improve their business," explains TBM CEO, Pierre van der Hoven.

He points out that this new visual communication solution is ideally suited to any organisation that has departments, branches or offices which are geographically separated, and can be used whenever and where ever the client chooses.

"This not only means greater flexibility for clients, it also has major cost reduction implications," he says.

At SARS, the network has two channels - one aimed at SARS staff that is used mainly for staff communication, training and education. The other provides information and education to the general public when they visit SARS offices. Each site runs both generic content and content specific to that site.

TBM provides the full service solution - installation, delivery of content via satellite (and changing it if and when necessary), scheduling, and maintenance of the network. Video, animation or static material is narrowcast via satellite facilitating instantaneous changes to content or scheduling on single or multiple screens.

Apart from TBM’s vision of using technology to make a major impact in the education arena, there are various other applications including social development, sustainable development, poverty alleviation and specific AIDS awareness programmes.

"What is key about the network is that each site runs unique content so it can be used to address issues specific to a specific region. Since it is a visual medium, it overcomes illiteracy, and material can be transmitted in the language of choice or even in multiple languages.

"An added benefit is that it runs a ‘repeating pad’ which means that people don’t have to gather at the same time to view the material and it can be repeated at no incremental cost whenever necessary," says van der Hoven.

TBM offers clients two other ancillary services: the generation of revenue from advertising (it has a well-established sales team) and creating content on their behalf (it has a content production facility). TBM is a 70% black controlled ICT company that has developed world first technologies for the delivery - via satellite - of large video files to individually controllable display screens. TBM was named a Technology Top 100 Company for its innovative technology. A media owner that sells cost-effective advertising on more than 700 screens around South Africa, TBM was also the official supplier of audio-visual solutions to the World Summit held in Johannesburg in 2002. TBM is a Proudly South African company.