The role of digital signage in a post-pandemic world

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The ancient Greeks had a way with words, often using many iterations for some for which we only have one. Take love, for example. The Greeks had four definitive ways to express it. A quick Google search however reveals they only had one word for chaos. This year has been described with many different words but there’s probably no better descriptor than ‘chaos’ to convey what has quickly become the most tumultuous year of my lifetime.

Like millions of people who depend on airlines, I found myself faced with uncertainty in March when upward of 90% of the industry stopped in the blink of an eye. Planes flying empty, photos on social media of desolate terminals and cargo replacing what used to be passenger seats were the norm and there seemed to be no end in sight. But as we dive into a new year, the promise of successful vaccines means the industry will soon recover financially and regain the public’s trust. Signage, specifically digital signage, is key to these objectives, both domestically and abroad.

Social distancing, washing your hands often, wearing masks, and sanitizing every surface imaginable as often as possible are concepts we’ve all grown accustomed to and these expectations are amplified for travelers who share small spaces for hours at a time. The coming months will be crucial to the airline industry in assuring passengers that not only is it safe to fly but that information can be quickly and effectively delivered to them. One of the ways to disseminate that information is through digital platforms, some of which already exist and others that are being added daily to transportation hubs across the world.

Today’s advancing digital signage technologies are making it easier than ever to reach travelers and as they begin moving through airport concourses again, they’ll need more than just advertising, flight information and directions. Social distancing and PPE reminders are paramount to everyone’s safety and employing digital components that can be seen from a range of angles, and can keep people moving efficiently and socially distanced through terminals, can make a big difference in how safe travelers feel. The days of huddling around static signage deciphering which direction to go while countless others are breathing down your neck are gone and will no longer be tolerated. Large, easy-to-read digital displays will be key as we move into the next stage of recovery and the best solutions will be sharp enough to convey all content; bright enough to stand out in busy, well-lit spaces; and versatile enough to integrate into any architecture. Think jumbotrons in airports with bright letters and infographics quickly updating and delivering information to passengers with such ease that a simple glance can inform one on how to get a coffee delivered to their seat or point them to the closest restroom.

If you are a frequent traveler you may have been inundated with information from the major airlines about processes that are now in place to make your travel experience safe. For example, with massive marketing budgets for television, email and social media, it’s easy to know that leading airlines won’t be selling middle seats through the end of the year, but what about airports? You may walk in and see a sign on the door mandating masks but what else is being done to ensure security in your experience and how can that be relayed effectively? Welcome signage at doors can be instrumental tools that airports can utilize to educate the traveler on steps taken to ensure a clean environment. For instance, a casual traveler may not know that parts of TSA are shut down periodically throughout the day for a thorough cleaning or that airports have deployed multiple hand sanitation stations on your path from the curb to the gate. With a simple and elegant placement of digital signage at key areas of ingress, passengers can rest easy knowing that steps are being taken to keep them safe and secure.

To take it a step further, some airports like Denver International are working on curtailed experiences, such as VeriFly, that provide passengers with VIP treatment from the moment they step out of the car all the way to their gate. Coupling digital elements with systems such as VeriFly can have a tremendous impact on lessening all contact with individuals. Large format ‘smart’ digital signage can be used as the guide through the airport, providing information in real time to specific customers with instructions on where to go and what procedures to follow. Technology is truly a game-changer when it comes to keeping passengers safe, informed and moving effectively throughout airports worldwide.

Covid will pass but its lingering effects will most likely stay with us for quite some time. The days of huddling together are long gone and may never return. Large format digital signage can become a great medium for public spaces to share information with customers effectively and safely, for now and into the future. I would encourage everyone to ‘go’ with the assurance that airports and airlines are doing everything within their power to keep you safe in this unprecedented time.

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