After seeing video walls in the airports of Singapore and South Korea, CIO John Newsome realized he had to improve the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s game.

Jan 08 2019

Digital Signs Point the Way to a Brighter Future

To improve constituent services and employee communication, agencies turn to video screens to broadcast information more efficiently.

In 2014, John Newsome, CIO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, embarked on a journey along with his director of engineering to look at technology in top airports globally. GOAA was preparing for a big overhaul, and Newsome wanted to see what was working at other leading airports.

The team’s first observation: The video walls prominent in Singapore and Incheon, South Korea, airports could really improve GOAA’s game. 

“We realized that the video walls would be very beneficial for our redesign of check-in counters at our airport,” Newsome says. “The old way we did things wouldn’t work anymore — having fixed and painted logos and branding. Video walls would give us more options every day and communicate more to our airlines and travelers.”

Modern video displays are transforming how state and local governments deliver wayfinding information to constituents. The video screens at Orlando International Airport in Florida demonstrate how the technology excels at providing directional and informational data. Like other digital solutions, they are becoming increasingly interactive rather than static. 

“Once just a simple, unidirectional broadcasting mechanism, digital signage now offers an array of new technology features like interactivity, facial recognition and magic mirrors that can drive valuable business scenarios across any vertical,” says J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester. “Digital signage also interacts increasingly with mobility, as more installations allow customers to take what they see on such signs with them on their own smartphones.” 

VIDEO: Find out how to turn smart state ideas into a reality. 

Orlando Gives Airlines an Interactive Tool 

Orlando’s new video walls consist of 700 LG Electronics 55-inch, ultrathin-bezel screens oriented in portrait mode. The individual units sit side by side, interrupted only by doors and passageways. Located behind common-use counters at the airport, they can be used by different airlines at different times of the day. 

“These video walls allow us to have airline branding right behind the counters,” Newsome says. Some of the airlines choose to have static displays, while others use full-motion video. “It’s providing very clear information about where your airline is. These screens are also noticeable from the curb, so you don’t have to wonder from the moment you get to the airport.”

John Newsome, CIO, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
We realized that the video walls would be very beneficial for our redesign of check-in counters at our airport.”

John Newsome CIO, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority

In the past, every time an airline moved or a new food or beverage vendor joined, the agency had to swap out physical signs. Now, signs update digitally

In addition, Annie the Astronaut, the airport’s mascot, can fly on and off the digital signs and video walls, improving customer service and branding. “She’ll dance and point in the right direction. Sometimes she waves and holds up a sign. It’s a really cute way of entertaining everyone and helping you find your way around the airport,” Newsome says.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Digital signage is one element of smart city deployments. 

Las Vegas Uses Displays to Improve Traffic Flows and Safety 

Digital signage is changing the way traffic moves through Las Vegas and surrounding areas. The city launched a digital traffic-direction project in 2016 and expects to complete the program by July 2019. It seeks to make commuting easier and faster for the occupants of the 300,000 vehicles traveling along Las Vegas roads every day. 

The new digital signage is part of Project Neon, a $1 billion investment in the city, which makes it the largest public works project in Nevada history. The signs are full-color, high-resolution video displays that provide real-time trip and traffic information to drivers. They are designed to reduce crashes, ease traffic and broadcast public service data. The same information that hits screens is also available on a custom mobile app, creating true interactivity. 

Manufactured by Daktronics, the signs are set up as a series of video billboards. There are two types: 12-foot-tall, 60-foot-wide screens spanning all lanes on a highway and smaller screens mainly used for lane control. 

All of the video screens are positioned every half mile and work concurrently, says Dale Keller, assistant chief of project management for the Nevada Department of Transportation. They are also bidirectional, featuring video cameras that can capture traffic in real time in an effort to reduce secondary accidents. 

“We’re using them for construction control, lane control and traffic times. It’s innovative because we can collect data for speed, lane and road status and provide warnings,” Keller says.


Denver Taps Digital Signage to Inform Municipal Workers 

Digital signage isn’t just for public-facing projects. For instance, Denver is upgrading digital signs to better inform municipal employees, says Diane Vertovec, the city’s director of marketing and communications.

Denver has more than 11,000 employees across 27 agencies. City employees once received information about city programs via an email newsletter and various printed signs located at roughly 200 physical locations. That strategy wasn’t working well because the city has a dispersed workforce, with many workers lacking access to email.

“We needed to reach people who collect trash as well as city attorneys. We wanted to find a way to communicate with employees who may spend very little time inside an office,” Vertovec says. “Plus, we had a physical need to reduce the poster easels standing in hallways and posters tacked to walls. We wanted everyone to receive the same messaging, and we wanted to avoid clutter.”

Denver installed the first five video screens in July 2017 in municipal offices and courts. Today, eight signs have been installed, with 43 more in the pipeline from Four Winds Interactive.

“When they first launched, they were glorified PowerPoints, but now we have multiple feeds within the signage,” says Wade Balmer, a project marketing and communications specialist.

A digest feed now features articles about city agencies. Another social media feed pulls in tweets and posts from all of the city agencies’ accounts. There’s a crawl at the bottom of the display with city news. And then there’s employee-generated content the city curates. “Sweaty selfies” show employees engaged in wellness activities. Participation has doubled since the city started listing those classes on the video screens, and Vertovec says every agency is clamoring for its own video screen installations.

Photography by Edward Linsmier

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