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Digital Signage: Planning For Predictable Contingencies

Aug 17, 2007
I can't get a simple song I learned so many years ago at Boy Scout camp out of my mind: "Be, be, be prepared, the motto of the Boy Scouts; Be, be, be prepared, the motto of the Scouts...."

Professional communicators responsible for creating content for digital signage networks and private TV channels should take note of that admonition. Being prepared for predictable emergency contingencies could mean the difference between safety, injury or even death.

While some emergency scenarios are unforeseen, many contingencies can be planned for. Fires, floods, severe weather conditions, to name a few, require predictable responses. Consider a fire evacuation plan in a large corporate building, school or medical facility. At this very moment, it's highly likely that printed signs warning not to take elevators in the event of a fire and displaying simple maps to the nearest stairways hang by those very elevators.

Those maps can serve as the basis for emergency response messaging on a signage system. Since digital signage networks rely on displays positioned in known locations, creating emergency evacuation maps and messages for the sectors occupied by the digital signs is a logical first step. The same approach is appropriate for tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings that advise people, based on their location in proximity to a given display, of where they should take shelter.

A conversation with your company's safety officer to learn the recommended actions building occupants should take in the event of these sorts of predictable contingencies could help to save lives.

For operators of digital signage networks and private TV channels that make the effort to prepare, contingency playlists stored on a media server can be instructed to interrupt the currently running playlist instantly. It's even possible in certain situations to network an emergency management computer with a digital signage media server so the correct contingency playlist can be run automatically and unattended. In other words, the fire escape playlist runs if heat or smoke sensors detect a fire and signal the emergency management computer which in turn communicates with the media server, and the playlist with the recommended tornado-safe areas runs if instructed to do so by the correct EAS alert message.

Automatically running a pre-produced emergency message playlist for a given contingency doesn't preclude adding up-to-the-second advisory information, however. If circumstances allow you to delay your evacuation, or if you work in an area not threatened by the contingency, your media server should allow you to create text crawls to present the latest warning and information without interrupting the contingency playlist. Doing so can make your efforts to communicate vital information in times of emergency all the more valuable to your audience.

I no longer wear a khaki uniform and a neckerchief, but those words reminding every troop member of the Scout Motto ring louder in my ears today than they did all those years ago. There's no substitute for being prepared to communicate the right message over your digital signage network or private TV channel in the event of predictable emergency contingencies. The time you take today to prepare may turn out to be some of the most important time you spend in your life.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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