There is a tendency for airports to use long-standing acronyms of FIDS, GIDS, BIDS, etc. when discussing passenger-facing screens. These screens represent the “last mile” of a key data system within the airport. Historically, airports have focused their purchasing decisions on the related key data systems – not the screen software. The display software was tailor made for singular purpose and propriety in nature with little functionality outside of that primary scope. As airports purchased more data systems, additional screen software came along for the ride. For years, this was accepted and many airports have grown into a dysfunctional state, with multiple screen systems in place, often with a 1-to-1 relationship of system to screen use case!
There is a better way
Modern digital signage content management systems (CMS) take a platform approach, serving any data source to any screen at any time. This breaks airports away from single use screens for FIDS, BIDS, GIDS, etc. At the drop of a hat (or data change) a screen can adapt and change based on the communication prioritizations laid out by the stakeholder.
The above suggests there should be no such thing as a “visual paging system”. However, the visual page is simply text, delivered by a key data system upstream of the CMS. The CMS sees the page and determines which screens it is displayed on, typically mapped with the same zoning as the integrated audio paging solution – yay for metadata! To add another screen system into an airport to exclusively deal with visual paging leans further into the dysfunction mentioned above. It also robs the airport of agility when approaching passenger communication.
In an ideal scenario an airport has all their screens on a unified CMS. Screens in the concourse are highlighted as requiring visual paging alerts. It is safe to assume that during quiet periods, there will be less paging announcements. Historically, this leaves a blank area on the screen, serving no purpose other than looking like something is missing/wrong. A platform CMS can see there is no current visual page data and show an alternate piece of content. This allows communications to be prioritized. Here is a good example of this:
Priority 1: Emergency Messaging - Full Screen Takeover (Emergency Management Platform)
Priority 2: Visual Paging (Audio Paging System and/or AI Driven Speech To Text Gateway)
Priority 3: Advertising (Advertising Booking Platform)
Priority 4: Airport Messaging (Uploaded Content By Operator)
With this order of prioritization, the CMS is waiting for a trigger from the emergency platform. If there is no current condition, it looks for a visual page. If there is no visual page, it shows revenue-generating ads, and if there are no ads booked for that screen location, show airport messaging, etc. This is a simple concept, yet many airports are still wasting screen real estate, with extremely poor utilization rates in those “blank” screen areas.
This approach demands a CMS that is not only capable of Communication Prioritization, but also integrates with all the upstream data systems that invoke the content change. This is why the platform approach is crucial. It future proofs the airports digital screen assets, increases ROI on any data systems that are purchased and provides ultimate agility to achieve the airports messaging goals.