Department of motor vehicle (DMV) offices continually look to technology to run more efficiently. In the past, DMVs have implemented websites and mobile apps to help customers keep track of wait times at field offices, but some states are providing technology to field offices through perhaps less traditional means.

For South Carolina, that technology comes without a price tag.

Earlier this year, the South Carolina DMV installed TVs in 42 of the state’s 67 DMV offices that connect to a queuing system, which assists with connecting people with customer service representatives. The TVs display the queue information, including which customer ticket number is ready for service, and the current wait time.

Although queuing systems and information TVs may not be new technology in DMV field offices around the country, South Carolina took an innovative approach to implementing the system without upfront costs or fees. Kevin Shwedo, executive director of the state’s DMV, said the department doesn’t have to pay for the technology because of an advertising arrangement the state has with Motor Vehicle Network, a company that operates a digital signage network with DMVs.

“We wanted to go ahead and find a way to optimize getting our customers through our line as fast as possible, and you do that with things like queuing technology,” Shwedo said. “We’re not a rich state; we can’t afford to do much on our own.”

He said the vendor provides the queuing technology and TVs (which are purchased separately from a second vendor) in exchange for access to display paid advertisements on the TVs.

“All the ads are sold by Motor Vehicle Network. They collect the money for it, and as a result, they keep my system operating,” Shwedo said.

Motor Vehicle Network displays community interest items such as the weather, ads for TV shows, public service announcements and typical advertisements for various businesses and services.

But although Motor Vehicle Network has the authority to display paid advertisements on the DMV’s TVs, Shwedo said the department has the final say on what advertisements can and can’t be shown.

Since the DMV prohibits advertising from any organization that it regulates, certain advertisements would not be approved. For example, Shwedo said because the DMV regulates car dealerships, advertisements for those businesses would be prohibited, however, advertisements for lawyers would be allowed.

Beth Parks, a spokeswoman for the department, said only advertisements relevant to a certain community or city would be displayed in that area.

Although the TVs are not installed in every DMV office in South Carolina, Shwedo said the state would like to see every field office equipped with the technology. The state is also planning to explore other technologies in the future such as the use of kiosks at the field offices.

Conversation starter: What technologies would you like to see implemented in DMV field offices?

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.