Digital Signage as an Emergency Response Tool

Due to the digitization megatrend, we are accustomed to looking at digital screens for information, entertainment, and education. Our brains process graphics faster than text, and motion naturally attracts our eyes. These three factors make digital signage for emergency messaging one of the best communication tools available.

Digital signage is traditionally used for marketing and general information. Yet don’t undervalue its vital role in to relaying potentially life-saving information during an emergency. Digital signage is highly visible and messaging can change instantly to make crowd communication and rescue efforts more efficient.

Where is Digital Signage for Emergency Messaging Used?

Schools (K-12, college and university campuses) first adopted digital signage for emergency messaging. A strategically placed digital sign can alert the campus to danger. A carefully crafted message can assist students, staff and faculty in getting to safety.

Before digital signage, schools used text/email alerts, intercoms, sirens etc. These were inexpensive solutions that could reach off-campus constituents. However, some methods were not CAP compliant or very reliable. After all, not everyone checks their emails regularly. Further, many K-12 schools do not allow students to carry or use cell phones while on campus.

And what about those who have not signed up for alerts? Or those who have turned off their phones? What about the hearing impaired?

Those emergency alert systems also failed to address the visual component of mass communication.

Digital signage filled this gap. Our brains are visually oriented and respond rapidly to images and motion. As a result, emergency messages displayed on digital signage reach more people than an intercom announcement.

Campuses, malls, hospitals, corporate offices, transportation services and government institutions are also starting to use digital signage as an emergency response tool.

The Superiority of Digital Signage

Above all, unlike intercoms or loudspeakers, digital signage for emergency messaging does not need real-time monitoring. Emergency alerts and safety instructions can be prepared ahead of time and saved in the digital signage CMS. For example, a tornado warning would activate the display of relevant messages. This “set it and forget it” nature of digital signage frees up your personnel for crisis response.

Such a proactive approach also saves time. During an emergency, response time speed can be the difference between life and death. Preparing emergency alerts and safety instructions ahead of time can mean more time to get people to safety.

On the other hand, emergencies aren’t all the same. Don’t worry. Digital signage can also be easily and instantly updated. Most digital signage solutions are cloud-based. This lets operators make updates as the emergency situation changes from any internet-enabled computer.

The technology also offers centralized control which expedites message consistency and timeliness. Information that can potentially save lives needs to be on time and accurate. Additionally, centralized control ensures that only authorized personnel have access to the emergency messages.

Using Digital Signage for Emergency Messaging

Digital signage for is made for emergency messaging during dynamically changing emergency situations such as:

  • Weather emergencies like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and floods
  • Earthquakes, landslides, and wildfires
  • Potential terrorist attacks and active shooter situations

Digital emergency signage can use eye-catching graphics to display information such as:

  • Descriptions of emergency situations
  • Instructions on emergency response (e.g exit routes, where to go, what to do and who to call)
  • Information about local emergency shelter centers, including phone numbers, addresses and capacities.
  • Ambulance/hospital contact info and basic first aid information.

Choosing the Best Digital Signage Solution

Digital signage is versatile. For example, you can see menu boards, building directory, general information sharing and other applications. When selecting digital signage for emergency messaging, there are some added considerations:

  1. Confirm you have total control over content published via the digital messaging signage system.
  2. Ensure interoperability so the technology can integrate with your other software e.g. CAP Alerts systems.
  3. Ask about the lifespan of the technology. Will components become outdated fast?
  4. Consider the signage environment. Are there weather-related concerns?
  5. Develop redundancy to ensure the emergency messaging display system does not “go down” if there are WiFi or power outages. Make sure there are more communication tools in the toolbox e.g. text messaging, sirens, loudspeakers, etc.

Why Use Digital Signage as an Emergency Response Tool?

Effective communication and crisis management during an emergency situation all comes down to preparation.

According to HigherEd TechDecisions, safety and security officials should follow four steps when using digital signage for emergency messaging:

  1. Prevention: Create prevention campaigns that detail how to respond to specific emergencies. Run these campaigns on digital messaging signage during regular hours.
  2. Preparedness: Create a plan of action for different emergency situations. Include a library of pre-built alerts and templates of safety zones. Store these in the software to trigger and display instantly.
  3. Response: Make alert integration part of your overall digital messaging plan.
  4. Recovery: For every emergency situation, plan a notification that the danger has passed and the alert is over.

Tips for Using Digital Signage for Emergency Messaging

The primary aim of digital signage for emergency messaging? Instantly delivering an important message to a wide-reaching audience, during a time which could be extremely chaotic.

The message has to be accurate, get to the audience quickly, and be easily understood. Here are some of the most popular tips for using digital and video signage as an emergency response tool:

  • Keep messages short and to the point. Emergencies are no time for long-windedness
  • Format text and fonts for optimal readability
  • Use bold colors to attract the most attention and be mindful or coloration too
  • Incorporate flashing icons. Motion attracts the human eye — use that
  • Do not require a signup process for an audience to receive emergency information via signage
  • Augment digital messaging and signage with location-based technology, like beacons
  • Use audio, SMS, and email notifications to complement the visual messaging

[intense_alert color=”warning”]Do you have any other tips for using digital signage for emergency messaging?[/intense_alert]

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