Most of the time when we talk about digital signage, we talk about it as an advertising tool. As such, we look at ways we can measure the return-on-investment with digital signage or how we can boost its overall effectiveness through analytics and dynamic content.
However, digital signage is useful for more than just simple advertising. It can also help a community become a safer place, raise awareness for community issues and help support vulnerable groups.
Outdoor displays can play a critical role in public safety. For example, let’s say a hurricane is rushing towards your country or state (much like how Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and the Carolinas recently), and you need a way to deliver messages quickly and safely to residents. Outdoor digital signage can provide those safety messages quickly and efficiently.
For example, outdoor signage can warn commuters that severe weather is coming and it can also offer safety tips, such as staying off the roads, going to a low point and going indoors.
Outdoor displays can help in other ways besides just weather updates, such as:
- Delivering amber alerts with pictures and details.
- Delivering updates on wanted criminals.
- Delivering safety tips for summer/winter outdoor activities.
Most people are familiar with popular PSA campaigns that have run on TV, billboards and the like. Digital signage can also play a role in helping raise awareness on community issues such as support for drug and alcohol abuse. However, it can also help with smaller community issues, such as fighting for the right to run a lemonade stand.
One DOOH campaign recently targeted areas in the U.S. where lemonade stands are practically illegal and delivered messages urging commuters to sign a petition to get states to legalize kid-run lemonade stands.
Digital signage can be used to raise awareness for a variety of issues such as:
- Driving safety.
- Suicide awareness.
- Social services.
Helping vulnerable groups
As digital signage is a public messaging tool, it should serve the public, and that includes more vulnerable groups. Billboards already often feature messages on groups such as abused children, hungry citizens and the homeless, and digital signage can do the same.
However, on another level, digital signage can help traditionally marginalized groups raise money. For example, the Shinnecock Indian Nation owns a digital billboard on Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays, New York. The nation uses billboard to raise advertising revenue. Department of Transportation officials have sued the nation to take the billboard down and the Shinnecock Nation is contesting the lawsuit in court.
Digital signage is first and foremost a communications tool, and when we learn to use it properly, we can use it both to make money and to make our communities better places to live.