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Q&A: Mvix Discusses How Digital Signage Enhances Mass Notification

Mike Kilian of Mvix explains how emergency messages displayed on digital signage can reach more people, and gives tips for installing and using a digital signage system in regards to emergency notification.

CI Staff

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 your clients are getting the most out of their investment. To get a better picture of the path schools and hospitals should take when adopting a digital signage system, CI sister publication Campus Safety talked to Mike Kilian, director of business development at Mvix, about the right way to make the digital signage upgrade.

What distinguishes digital signage from 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.

Also See: Rise of Smart Devices, Interoperability Drives Demand for Security System Integrators

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 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.

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 for end users to guarantee information gets to the entire campus in case of an emergency?

While digital signage can be used as a standalone 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 campuswide. 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 campuswide 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.

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 does the cost compare with other emergency notification mediums?

The initial cost of implementing digital signage for education can be hefty. There may be multiple vendors involved, e.g. software providers, display vendors, cabling, etc. and each of these vendors introduces risk factors that can mar the implementation.

However, the ROI and ROO [return on objectives] defeats the cost. Digital signage is versatile and can be used in various capacities. For example, it can be used for emergency messaging, as a digital menu board in the cafeteria, and it can also be repurposed to a digital building directory. It can also be used to drive additional revenue by promoting merchandise in the bookstore, or promote events to drive ticket sales. The system can pay for itself within a very short time.

What are some other uses of digital signage in schools/campuses?

Digital signage can be easily repurposed to display information other than emergency alerts. It is being used in cafeterias to broadcast nutritional information and menus which in turn promotes healthy food choices among students. Crisp imagery and vivid videos call attention to healthy entrées, thus encouraging students to be more conscious of what they’re eating.

With the lack of classroom time available to teach kids about eating healthy and staying active, K-12 digital signage offers an effective alternative. These digital displays can also be used to direct traffic during lunch, so the lines move faster and students have more time to eat.

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Digital signage in schools is also being used to share important school announcements, highlight student and staff achievements as well as showcase donor contributions. The technology is also being used inside classrooms to facilitate collaborative learning. It is being used as an instructional tool, allowing educators to broadcast educational programming, enhance class presentations, share remote lectures and participate in virtual fieldtrips.

Read the entire conversation on CI sister publication Campus Safety‘s website, campussafetymagazine.com.

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