Q&A: Digital Signage Advice from Mvix

A security expert from Mvix explains the benefits of digital signage and give tips for installing and using a digital signage system in regards to emergency notification.

Even after a school or hospital decides to invest in a digital signage system, administrators and executives need to know how to incorporate it into their existing emergency notification system and make it complement other aspects of campus security.

Simply installing a digital signage system can go a long way, but it doesn’t guarantee you’re getting the most out of your investment. Digital signage can be used for a wide array of services, some of which have little to do with security.

To get a better picture of the path schools and hospitals should take when adopting a digital signage system, Campus Safety talked with Director of Business Development Mike Kilian of Mvix about the right way to make the digital signage upgrade.

What makes digital signage superior to other methods of mass notification like texts/emails, sirens, intercoms, social media, etc.?
Audio systems and personal devices do not address the visual component of mass communication but digital signage does. Our brains process graphics faster than text, and our eyes are naturally attracted to motion, so emergency messages displayed on digital signage will reach more people than an announcement made over the intercom.

Unlike the intercom or bullhorns, digital signage does not need to be monitored in real time. Alerts and safety instructions for events such as tornadoes can be pre-programmed ahead of time and then triggered to be displayed when the event occurs. This “set it and forget it” nature of digital signage frees up personnel who will be better prepared to respond to an active shooter or other incident requiring immediate response.

Emergency messaging on digital signage can be highly targeted by location and audience. The messages can also be changed instantly as the emergency situation changes. Most digital signage solutions are cloud-based and can be accessed from any internet-enabled computer, so campus administrators will not be tied down to a specific location in order to make updates.

When used as a stand-alone emergency notification tool, digital signage has a wider reach than traditional tools. The digital signage software plays into the convergence of emergency notification technology by sending alerts to large LED displays as well as personal devices such as laptops, desktops, tablets and cell phones.

RELATED: Questions to Ask to Maintain A Secure Digital Signage Network

Emergency messaging on digital signage can also be highly targeted by location and audience. The messages can also be changed instantly as the emergency situation changes. Most digital signage solutions are cloud-based and can be accessed from any internet-enabled computer, so campus administrators will not be tied down to a specific location in order to make updates.

What are a few tips you have for campus safety officials to guarantee information gets to the entire campus in case of an emergency?
While digital signage can be used as a stand-alone emergency response tool, it is most effective when incorporated with several technologies so the strengths of one can compensate for the weaknesses of others. A combination of digital signage, audio systems and email/text ensures maximum reach and maximum impact.

The interoperability of the digital signage network is also important. In most campuses, the acquisition of digital signage tends to be done on a departmental level and not campus-wide. So it is not uncommon for different departments within the campus to have digital signage systems from different vendors. These systems need to be interoperable and “talk” to each other in order to accept a campus-wide emergency alert.

A thorough plan of action should be determined beforehand. Having a library of messages is a start. These should be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still relevant and accurate. In addition to determining what messages should be used and when, administrators should also define who will be in charge of the messaging. When is the decision made to deploy the message? Once these decisions have been made, a clear protocol should be drawn up and distributed to all appropriate personnel. If a thorough plan of action is determined beforehand, it is less likely people will panic during the actual emergency.

Campus administrators should also get in the habit of using the digital signage displays regularly so students, staff and faculty see the value of them. People will get in the habit of looking at them to get useful information, so in the event of an emergency, they’ll naturally look at the digital signs for information on what to do.

How would you describe the ideal emergency communication platform?
During an emergency, time is of the essence. Communication before, during and after an emergency situation needs to be fast and accurate so that people can respond and react fast. So following this, the ideal and most effective emergency notification system is one that will deliver messages to multiple endpoints i.e. digital signs, mobile phones, social media, e-mail, TV, intercom etc. This ensures that the message has maximum impact and maximum reach (reaches both on-campus and off-campus constituents e.g. parents).

An emergency communication platform also needs to protect against unauthorized personnel. You don’t want false messages being deployed, causing an unnecessary panic.

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