Digital Communications Help Protect the Public

In the movies, every hero needs a partner to help them fight crime. It’s no different in real life! But rather than calling upon a single costumed crusader, law enforcement and government officials increasingly depend on digital communications. Digital display technology helps distribute updates, alerts, and critical information to the public to help prevent crime, apprehend persons of interest, and improve safety. From individual neighborhoods to cities to states to the country as a whole, digital communications provide a platform for sharing real-time information on any type of screen. Digital Communications Can Help Protect the Public The primary mission of law enforcement is to protect and serve, and digital communications are a powerful tool police have in their arsenal to help protect the public. For example, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing a partnership between the FBI and digital signage operators along the East Coast of the United States extended the bureau’s reach as far south as Washington D.C. In addition, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency joined forces with Clear Channel Outdoor to broadcast public safety messages on seven digital billboards along major highways in the Boston area, helping keep the public out of harm’s way. Similarly, digital billboards and other networked digital screens have been used to share real-time updates and important evacuation information during severe weather conditions like hurricanes, fires, blizzards and tornados. Digital Technology is a Powerful Crime Prevention Tool Although digital communications can help police catch criminals after the act, they also play an essential role in helping prevent crimes and tragedies from occurring. Public service organizations are increasingly harnessing the power of digital communication to inform and educate the public. Recent public awareness campaigns have included texting and driving, speeding, and vandalism. In addition, digital communications are used to rapidly issue AMBER Alerts for child abduction cases and Silver Alerts for seniors suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or other mental disabilities who have gone missing. The FBI Depends on Digital Communications to Help Locate Their Most Wanted Every law enforcement officer knows that when it comes to locating and catching criminal suspects, fugitives, and persons of interest, time is of the essence. Since seconds often mean the difference between life and death, the real-time capabilities provided by digital technology can help prevent a crime from being committed and save lives. That’s why the FBI has been using digital communications to publicize wanted criminals, fugitives, missing persons, public safety issues, and law enforcement initiatives for over a decade. Success stores are not limited to the FBI, however. News stories of digital technologies helping local law enforcement, the private sector, and the public work together to bring criminals to justice are becoming more common in the information age.

The Next Generation of Emergency Notifications Has Arrived

Why do we continue to rely on the old siren-based system of sending emergency notifications? Advances in technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide numerous ways to enhance the traditional siren. When an emergency happens, people need to be informed as soon as possible, but also understand clearly what the emergency is. Sirens simply do not provide anything other than an alert that there is a possibility of danger. Real-time data can make all the difference between panic and rational action whenever an emergency occurs. Why Digital Communications are So Important A digital communications platform can ensure people get the information they need whenever there is an emergency. Sirens, in many instances, have become more of an annoyance than a true sign of a life-threatening situation. A frightening aspect of siren-based systems is that they can easily be hacked, raising the possibility of mass chaos. In April 2017, all 156 tornado warning sirens in Dallas, Texas, activated simultaneously during the middle of severe weather season. Thousands of residents panicked as the sirens continued to go off on a night when skies were clear. According to The Dallas Morning News, officials with the city’s Office of Emergency Management blamed the activations on a computer hack. Not only are sirens antiquated and vulnerable to attack, they provide no information about the nature of an emergency. Digital communications on devices like digital signage and mobile phones, on the other hand, deliver real-time data that adds context to an alert, allowing people to quickly take whatever actions are needed to stay safe. Calm Instead of Chaos There are several different scenarios where an advanced, data-driven emergency notification system can be a major benefit. When severe weather is approaching, facility operators can send informative messages directly to staff members as well as building occupants. These messages, delivered directly to mobile devices, can tell people exactly how to take cover so they can be secure. If an area needs to be quickly evacuated, such as a large office building or a retail store, real-time information will detail exactly where exits are located, and which exits are safe to use so people can leave in an orderly manner. If an office or campus lockdown occurs due to a threat of violence, a digital communications system will let them know when it is safe to leave the area. There are many factors that go into determining how someone will react to traditional alarms. According to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, someone hearing a fire alarm at home will react a great deal faster than someone in a public building. If they are in a shopping mall, and don’t have additional information providing context to the alarm, they will very likely continue with their activities. Perhaps even more important is that according to Security Magazine, a crucial component of security notification systems is bidirectional abilities; it’s critical that messages aren’t just sent, but actually received as well. By using real-time digital communications, facility operators will greatly improve the chances that emergency messages will truly resonate with their intended recipients. It’s Time to Implement a Digital Communications System for Your Facility The safety of everyone inside your facility must be your top priority – it is not only a moral responsibility, it could also be a matter of liability. By going beyond the traditional alarm or siren system, you will be in a much more favorable position to minimize any potential harm and create a safer environment.

Smart Students Demand Smart Tech – Higher Ed Institutions need to Step Up

Millennials are embracing the increasingly digital world. Imagine an institution that brings together thousands of these millennials everyday. This place is where they spend the majority of their time for four to eight years, and spend thousands of dollars to do so. What are their expectations for such a place? Digital communication. As a student myself, currently attending a well known Canadian University, I have first hand experience with the digital communication tools available on campuses. Higher education institutions are using basic digital signage to share important information in order to improve the campus experience for students, employees, and visitors. While this is a great start, it is only scratching the surface of what digital communication tools can do for this community. With the majority of students between the ages of 18-25, they have grown up in an era of tech, making it an expectation rather than a bonus. Highlighted below are a few of the many ways university and colleges can implement digital communications across their campuses. Timely Transportation Students are busy; juggling school, extracurricular activities, a job, social life, all while practicing the current trend of healthy active living and fitting in a weekly Netflix binge. They expect information to be where they need it, when they need it. Students are techy; they are aware of the digital tools available to communicate. Therefore, students become quite frustrated when these tools are not available, forcing them to go out of their way to find the information for themselves. For example, on my campus, the majority of students commute to school everyday by bus. Why don’t we have a mobile app with real-time updates on bus routes? Students are frustrated with this everyday; the bus never showed, it was 20 minutes late, it was full when it reached my stop, did you know buses only run every hour on holidays – I was waiting 40 minutes! Mobile apps are everywhere, which is why students find it so frustrating when they don’t have one for a crucial service they use everyday. With the right software, it’s easy to whip up a real-time mobile app in minutes. Simplifying the Study Spot Struggle Exam season or not, students often spend 10-30 minutes walking through the floors of the school library looking for a seat. Seats are definitely available, but students often become so frustrated trying to find a seat they give up and head off to find somewhere else to study. Many students won’t even consider going to the library - they simply don’t want to deal with the headache and struggle of wandering around with a heavy bag of textbooks just to find a spot to study. This reflects poorly on the university, as an available library to study is one of the most basic expectations from a post secondary institution. An easy fix to this could be to implement real-time digital signage and/or a mobile app, showing which seats, cubicles, or group study rooms are available. The current method of booking group study rooms at many schools consists of booking online when the portal opens at midnight. The first problem with this is students need to be up and available at exactly midnight if they even want a chance at getting a room. Secondly, most of these rooms are booked as a precaution if students can’t find a better spot in the library when they arrive, meaning most of the rooms sit booked yet unused. IOT sensors have become highly affordable in recent years, making it a realistic and easy solution to a problem such as this. IOT sensors installed in each study room or cubicle can easily communicate to a digital screen or mobile app whether that space is occupied or available. This is similar to how many new parking garages are notifying people of where and what spots are available. Enabling students with real-time data such as this would significantly improve the student experience. Taking Safety into the 21st Century With thousands of students living on campus, and tens of thousands of students visiting campus each day, safety is a primary concern for higher education institutions. The current method of emergency notification is the well known siren. While an effective method for notifying people of an emergency, it does not allow the recipient to make the most informed decision about what to do. This poses many problems. An individual may be deaf, in which case they will not be aware of the emergency. Or, when making the decision to use the closest exit in a fire, an individual could be heading straight towards the fire, wasting precious time needed to safely escape. Through digital communication tools such as digital signage or mobile apps, large groups of people can be instantly informed of what type of emergency is occurring and how to safely deal with the situation. Not only can it provide information to people at risk, but bi-directional abilities allow information to be relayed back. For example, people can inform emergency personnel which part of the building they are in, if they are safe, trapped, or even received the message. Another example could be aiding in safety communications when students walk alone at night, or if a crime is witnessed. The current safety method consists of a number of safety poles placed around campus. While a great invention, it is no help to students that are in danger nowhere near the pole. If students are targeted, they will obviously not be targeted in sight of an emergency pole. With a bi-directional safety app, students could easily alert authorities with a click of a button, anytime, any place. They can also alert authorities of the type of incident that is occurring, allowing safety personnel to take appropriate action without wasting any time. Safety is a liability to any post secondary institution. Digital communication gives you the ability to reduce risk and increase the safety of students, faculty, and visitors. While higher education institutions are on the right track, they are not meeting the expectations of their high paying customers – students. Universities and Colleges are consistently making campus improvements in order to attract top students, and digital communications should not be forgotten. In a time when consumers are already fully immersed in technology, and institutions are just beginning to embrace digital solutions, being an early adopter is where you want to be positioned. Digital communication tools allow campuses to not only gain competitive advantage, but also differentiate themselves against competing institutions by providing the technology students now expect.

Digital Signage Fuels SMART Organizations

Whether you are a large enterprise with employees scattered all over the globe or a smaller organization with multiple departments, the struggle to get specific information to the right people at the right time is still the same. The use of visual communications and technologies like digital signage, interactive kiosks, and video walls provides an opportunity to communicate important messages, emergency notifications, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to their employees that can help reinforce branding, improve building navigation, as well as enable informed decision making. By integrating digital signage, you have the ability to transform into a ‘SMART’ organization - one that is "Specific-Measurable-Assignable-Realistic and Time-Related." A New Era of Communication With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn, it plans to bring together the “world’s leading professional cloud and network.”  With a common mission to empower people and organizations, Microsoft and LinkedIn intend to break down the silos of information that currently exist for professionals and “create more connected, intelligent and productive experiences.”  When you connect people with information where and when they need it you improve productivity, unlock ROI and break down silos. Employee Communications Digital signs maintained for employees can be immensely useful and help disseminate information quickly, accurately, and in a format that is attention-grabbing. Employees can be kept updated with real-time external information like the news, weather or traffic alerts, and internal information like KPIs or corporate goals. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) provide actionable metrics that most organizations use to keep their business on track. Historically, KPIs have often been tracked in spreadsheets and scorecards that were distributed on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. With the growing popularity of digital screens and digital signage it is now possible to publish real-time updates to KPIs as they happen and keep everyone in the organization informed about how things are tracking.  Integrating with back-end applications like CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) and ERP (SAP, Oracle, etc.), can show performance metric changes as they happen, enabling improved decision making and allowing staff to be more proactive which increases efficiency. Engaging with your employees and getting them more involved at work can help boost confidence by building an understanding of how the company is performing, increase their trust with company transparency, and create a culture of team spirit. Motivated employees who are committed to their job and their employer are more likely to be high performing, loyal and happy in their work, and it is these employees who will be the company's best ambassadors. Integrated Digital Workplace Creating an integrated digital workplace is easier than you think. First let's breakdown what we mean by "integrated". Integration can take many different shapes and forms. One of the most common approaches is integrating information from various sources such as news and weather feeds, scheduling systems, and technologies such as sensors and alarms or other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By utilizing a digital signage platform, organizations can tie together all of these applications and devices to create a unified communications solution. Examples of common applications include: 1. Emergency notifications Virtually all organizations need to have a way to notify their employees, customers, or visitors of potential fire, health or safety hazards. While audio alarms have long been the standard, visual communications provides a new and unique way to get real-time alerts and information out to people where and when they need it while improving disaster preparedness and safety plans. 2. Interactive Wayfinding Kiosks People today are more self-directed than ever.  Employees or visitors can have a personalized experience based on real-time information to ensure that they get the most up to date information, helping them get where they need to go. 3. Video walls Organizations have the ability to stand out and captivate their audience with multi-display signage. With a software platform, you can do more than just a looped video. Create that “wow” moment with scalable content that will impress any executive, employee, or guest.

4 Ways Digital Signage Makes the Public Sector Run Better

It wasn't that long ago that digital signage was considered expensive and out of reach for most organizations. However, as the technology has matured and costs have come down it has become practical and useful for all organizations, including public sector such as cities, towns, state and federal governments and schools. Public sector entities are increasingly turning to digital signage as they discover the many ways it can help these organizations operate and use tax dollars more efficiently. In fact, the public sector may prove to be one business type that benefits disproportionately from digital signage. Here are 4 ways digital signage can make the public sector run better.   1. Improve Internal Communications In the public sector, as in manufacturing and other industries, digital signage doesn't necessarily have to be public-facing to be a good investment. Sometimes organizations need to get information out to staff members quickly, and strategically placed digital signs in the workplace can accomplish this better than an email, social media post, or PA system. Employee-facing digital signage in the workplace can be used for a variety of purposes including posting metrics, sharing reminders and updates, providing scheduling information, and wayfinding. 2. Assist the Public with Common Needs Public sector entities and administrative processes go together naturally. You can free up staff to more valuable activities by using digital signage to assist citizens with common tasks, like signing in at the Department of Motor Vehicles for their driving test, or directing them where to go to pay property taxes, get a marriage license, or register to vote. This can save a public sector organization significant money long term, by allowing staff members to put their time to its most productive use. 3. Share Emergency Information Quickly Suppose visitors or employees in a particular building are in the path of severe weather. Historically the only way to trigger a widespread notification was an audio alarm such as a siren or an urgent email, now warnings or evacuation instructions can be transmitted instantly via digital signs, reaching more people and spreading the word rapidly. Digital signage enables organizations to not only notify people of the emergency situation but provide evacuation details such as what route to take or other critical information. When you broadcast emergency information on digital signs, you can be confident more people will see the information right away, so they can act quickly. 4. Ensure Everyone Gets the Message You can and should announce events like training sessions or fire drills over secure email or secure social media channels, but you can't expect everyone to get the word that way. Nor do old fashioned paper memos reach everyone the way they're supposed to; adding announcements on digital signage helps to fill in the gaps. Staff don't have to check their email or desk inbox to be informed of important events, because they can see this information on digital signs in multiple places, like in the building lobby or on the way to the vending machines. With advancements in technology and digital signage not only provides high quality visuals it is more affordable than it has ever been. Today's digital signage platforms offer businesses and public sector organizations flexibility, speed, and clarity in delivering important information, whether to members of the public who seek services, or to employees who must be kept apprised of organizational information. With well-planned and executed digital signage, public sector organizations can improve communications in an engaging manner, while at the same time saving on labor and making the best possible use of tax dollars.    

Why Manufacturing and Digital Signage Were Made for Each Other

Most people have encountered digital signs in everyday life, whether in their work environment or their personal life. Digital signage is used for a range of applications including advertising, menu boards, schedules/timetables and wayfinding.  Suprisingly, digital signage is also popular in manufacturing environments. In a manufacturing setting with production lines, phones, emails, two-way radios, and PA systems all have serious drawbacks, making digital signage ideal. Strategically placed digital signage in a manufacturing facility can improve safety awareness, communicate valuable information instantly, and reduce response time when something on a production line must be changed. It can also reduce or eliminate costs and waste associated with printing. What ROI Means with Digital Signage in Manufacturing Environments If you're considering digital signage with your store, you naturally consider return on investment (ROI) in terms of how much the signage costs compared to how much new business it brings in. In a manufacturing setting, however, ROI is a little different. Typically, the ROI with digital signage in a manufacturing facility is measured in terms of safety improvements. A single injury costs a manufacturing facility an average of almost $80,000, so digital signage that prevents even a few injuries by communicating valuable safety information quickly demonstrates a positive ROI.   Conveying Dynamic Data Broadly and Promptly Many modern manufacturing facilities do their best to keep workers apprised of productivity metrics, quality control, inventory levels, and production totals to keep productivity, safety, and employee morale high. Digital signage can be perfect for conveying this type of information to your workforce quickly, without excessive use of resources, delays, or unnecessary distractions from important tasks. PA systems in noisy environments are easily misunderstood, and paper and email notices can be woefully inefficient. Digital signs solve these problems beautifully.   Plant Safety and Emergency Communications It's easy to ignore notice boards and safety posters, but safety information presented in a captivating manner on digital signage is engaging and conveys information efficiently. It can work wonderfully to reinforce safety training concepts. Digital signs are also terrific for emergency communications. They can display clear direction arrows and icons, and transmit audio as well. In an emergency situation, communication is absolutely essential for maintaining safety, and digital signage helps you inform your employees, locate exits, and direct them to shelter, with messages custom tailored to the event.     Consider the Physical Environment When Choosing a Provider If you are interested in using digital signage in your manufacturing facility, make sure your digital signage provider understands the physical environment in which signs will be used. Signage located in a loading dock may experience extreme temperatures, while signage mounted above production lines may encounter airborne particles, moisture, or other environmental conditions not normally encountered in retail environments. Your provider can help you determine the best way to utilize digital signs while keeping the technology protected and in proper working order.    Digital Signage Is Ultimately about Fast, Accurate Communication Whether in a hospital, an airport, a restaurant, or a manufacturing plant, digital signage is all about fast and accurate display of relevant information. It can even be used to announce information that changes from day to day, such as staff scheduling. In a manufacturing environment, digital signage really earns its keep, providing management with information on production line metrics, giving line workers critical safety and production information, and keeping the entire workforce informed in emergency situations.  Digital signs are available in a remarkable range of sizes and configurations, so whatever the size of your manufacturing facility, there is a digital signage solution that can deliver ROI in the form of a safer, more informed workforce. Your customers may not see the digital signs in your facility, but they definitely benefit from what digital signage can accomplish with your workforce.   

Don't Leave Your Data in the Dark

One of the fundamental reasons for taking your business digital is to better leverage existing resources like data. Using digital signage software you have the ability to utilize the volumes of data collected over the years and still being collected to improve areas like your visual communications and customer experience. One common question is - how do I turn my data into engaging visual communications and interactive experiences? Below are some applications to consider as a starting point: 1. Advertising Increase brand awareness by integrating with existing POS and CRM databases, as well as newer technologies like sensors and beacons, to get the right message to the right person at the right time.   2. Employee Communications Deliver content based on a variety of criteria including role, department, location to ensure the information presented is relevant to your employees. 3. Emergency Notifications Interact with physical devices and sensors; reacting immediately and triggering an alarm or emergency notification in an instant across part of or your entire network. 4. Schedules/Timetables Provide real-time updates to changes in schedules or timetables to ensure mission critical information is always available and accurate. 5. Interactive Kiosks Create an engaging and interactive kiosk experience that not only allows people to serve themselves but provides them with relevant real-time information. 6. Menu boArds Draw customers in with eye-catching graphics, program real-time intelligence to have instant playback decisions based on time of day and weather. 7. Wayfinding Create maps and floor plans that are easy to understand and ensure accuracy with your changing environment, all while integrating with 3rd party applications such as mobile. Learn More

Smart Transportation

Gone are the days of paper signs and delays in getting updated information out to travellers. We live in a real-time world and travellers expect real-time, relevant information at their fingertips. Digital communications, using devices like digital signs and interactive kiosks, can enhance passenger travel experience by helping people get to where they need to go safely, efficiently, and effectively. Equipping your passengers with the right information, at the right time can ensure a positive experience in an environment that demands real-time sensitive information. Digital communications in transportation can: Alleviate perceived wait times Enhance travel experiences Engage passengers with news, weather, emergency broadcasts Deliver real-time location-based information, such as arrival/departure times, cancellations and delays, or service stoppage Improve operations by reducing the workload of employees Keep passengers safe; emergency notifications can interrupt regularly scheduled content Be a “travel guide” through interactive wayfinding kiosks Wayfinding has evolved over the last couple of decades from static paper signage to electronic wayfinding to interactive wayfinding. This transition in large part has been the result of new technologies becoming available for airports, stations and terminals to leverage. One technology that had a significant impact was digital signage. With digital signs transportation organizations were able to quickly and easily update signage providing travellers with more accurate and timely arrival/departure times, cancellations, and delays. The advent of digital signage has also led to significant improvements in wayfinding in facilities like airports where there are often multiple terminals and large volumes of people need to be move through the space quickly. In airports wayfinding encompasses a number of areas including moving travellers across terminals, to and from gates, through security, and to popular destinations in the airport like restaurants and shops. These same screens are often also used to provide not only wayfinding information but also for advertising and to provide news and weather updates. Interactive wayfinding takes traditional wayfinding to an entirely new level integrating technologies like touchscreens, RFID, and barcode scanners. Touchscreens have enabled a whole new level of self-service allowing travellers to independently select a destination from a map or list and the system creates a map to the end point factoring things such as multiple floors, multiple regions, and multiple buildings. Additionally, some software solutions that power interactive wayfinding kiosks use conditional formatting and are able to react to things such as elevator operation times, making the system choose an appropriate route based on current conditions. Read the full case study!


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