More than half of event planners report that they have had to deal with an emergency during a conference or trade show. If the unexpected happens, you need to make sure your attendees are secure, reassured and know what to do. Digital signage gives you the important speed and flexibility you need to communicate critical information. Here’s how digital signage improves event security.
Your First Line of Communication
Think about your event, conference or trade show. People can be scattered all around the facility. If there is a security issue, you must communicate clear, accurate information wherever they are. Confusion is your enemy. As we have said before:
The easiest way to make attendees feel more secure is to let them know where to go and what to do if an emergency happens.
The challenge is that you can’t anticipate every possibility and where or when it might happen. Every crowd is different, and every venue is different. As an event organizer, planner or producer, you always anticipate the best possible experiences … but you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. How do you ensure that attendees are safe, secure and informed in case of the most common emergencies?
Digital Signage Proves Its Value
This is where digital signage proves its value. Research shows digital signage captures 400% more views than traditional signage.
Traditional signage is static. It communicates a single message and that’s it. You have to try to anticipate everything your attendees might need to know and do – and then have it printed far in advance. Digital signage can be updated immediately to respond to rapidly changing security situations. With real-time messaging, all event, security or emergency communication updates can be shared with your audience in seconds. Plus, you can use animation, motion, video and audio to communicate safety messages and directions.
You Have to Plan
It’s pretty obvious that you can’t wait for an emergency to develop your signage. As part of making your Emergency Action Plan, you’ve already identified exits, safety and evacuation routes, and you should have developed the main “what to do and where to go” for each major emergency and security situation. So before the event, go one more step: Work with your digital signage supplier to design the screens and signage you might need. At Shepard, we recommend that your signage communicate four key messages:
Add the maps, routes, key points and all the basic information in advance. Then you are ready. Plus, be sure to design areas where you can quickly enter new messages. One best practice is that the emergency information and imaging should always look the same and use the same basic layout and format. This keeps the signage consistent no matter where it is physically located. Let me give you some other suggestions based on our experiences.
Use Visual Language
In an emergency situation, your attendees will be surprised, confused and disoriented. They will not read lengthy directions. They won’t take the time to consider alternatives. Things can get emotional, so you have to use a visual language to communicate. Here are some recommendations from the Shepard team:
- Universally recognized emergency symbols – Use simple international symbols like the first-aid cross, flames and the circle-backslash “No” symbol. Do not rely solely on language.
- Combine symbols and motion – Combine the standard “green running man” emergency exit symbol with a flashing arrow. The goal is to make the information more noticeable and effectively direct people along the intended route.
- Be concise and directive – Make security a no-brainer. Use two-word directions like “Go Here” and “Evacuation Route”
- Where not to go is as important as where TO go – In unpredictable situations, clearly mark the wrong way to go. This is especially important in case of fire, bad weather or an active-shooter situation. A large, flashing red “X” through the sign or hallway can prevent people from using an exit route or door that’s unsafe.
Clearly, digital signage helps you attract attention, communicate clearly and update your messages instantly to redirect people during a developing emergency. But one its other biggest values is wireless networking. All your signage can be changed at any time. That means that any sign can carry security messages. Also, new digital signage is portable. Units can be moved and working in a matter of minutes. That helps you put your communication where it’s needed the most.
It’s usually best to place signage where the most people go and along the paths that take them there. Plan based on the traffic flow for directional and informational signage. Then coordinate with the venue and local fire/police to determine the best emergency routes. You may need to add some additional digital signs in some less traveled areas to help ensure that emergency messages reach everyone.
These are just a few suggestions. Shepard experts will be glad to review your Emergency Action Plan and make recommendations for your best digital signage placement and content.
Every Second Counts
When an emergency happens, every second counts. Every person will immediately want to know what happened, what to do and how to find the best route to safety. Digital signage gives you the ability to quickly display critical information and update it instantly. It helps your attendees feel – and be – more secure.
So use it! In fact, the same signage you use for directions and information to create a connected event can adapt to an emergency situation and lead people from danger to safety.
How Digital Signage Improves Event Security
Event technology is one of the most exciting areas of innovation in our industry. It allows event organizers, planners and producers like you to create more engaging experiences, customize content and deliver greater value than ever before. The Shepard team gives you the benefit of our extensive experience and the expertise we’ve gained from working with hundreds of clients on conferences, events and trade shows. We know how to take new technology and use it to help you solve the real-world challenges of attracting, managing and satisfying large groups of people … safely.