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Aug102012

Digital Signage Application: Summer Lull Offers Opportunity to Evaluate Emergency Communications Plans

Changes to the nation’s emergency communications infrastructure offer authorities a way to reach out to people on their cell phones, but digital signs remains a vitally important part of the mix.

Summer is the time for fun, sun and relaxation. It’s also a good time to pause and think for a moment about the emergency messaging system your company, school, governmental agency or institution has set up to warn workers and visitors of possible danger.

Why contemplate trouble during such a carefree season? Simple, the summer lull gives many people a bit of a break from the volume of work they deal with the rest of the year.  Emergency messaging needs also become top of mind simply because of the number of severe thunderstorms and tornados that strike during the summer.

This summer in particular is a great time to reevaluate emergency messaging because of the work being done by the government and industries, such as the wireless and broadcast industries, to modernize the Emergency Alert System so agencies like National Weather Service and even state governors and the President of the United States can reach out to individuals’ cell phones and other mobile receivers to deliver vital information in a crisis.

With these improvements to the nation’s Emergency Alert System, one may wonder why digital signage should be added as a medium to convey emergency messages. In other words, if someone’s cell phone is going to warn them of imminent danger from a violent storm, what role is there for digital signage?

It appears there are at least three very good reasons that digital signage continues to play an important role in conveying emergency warnings. First, while many people have cell phones, laptops and tablets, there’s no guarantee that they will have them with them when an alert is issued. In fact, some people may work in a setting where they are required to turn off their cell phones and may not even be able to access them at all in stricter work environments.

Second, while cell phone coverage continues to expand, there remain many places where service is intermittent or non-existent. For example, some National Parks continue to have spotty cell coverage. Those visiting a lodge may not have access to their cellular provider but could see warnings of a wildfire along with instructions of what to do on digital signs located around the lobby.

Third, digital signs give enterprises the opportunity to target specific warnings at a targeted group of people. For instances, while a national EAS system that reaches out to individual cell phones might be great at warning people of an imminent terrorist threat, what is the likelihood that it will be used to communicate to 20,000 students and faculty in a particular university campus that there is school shooter outside their building? Digital signage, however, can be used to deliver the precise warning required to that group of students and faculty.

Digital signage will continue for the foreseeable future to play an important role in disseminating emergency messages to the public. Why let another summer go by without reevaluating how your enterprise will communicate to employees and patrons in the event of an emergency? And as you consider the options, remember that adding digital signage to the mix could mean the difference between life and death.

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