Digital Signage as a Warning Instrument – eKiosk Digital Signage as a Warning Instrument – eKiosk

Digital Signage as a Warning Instrument

Have you noticed it? In Germany, signalling systems and warning apps for disaster situations were tested across the country on 10 September – conclusion: a catastrophe. The test revealed that the warning system still has too many errors at various levels and that the state governments will have to do a lot of follow-up work. We ask ourselves: Can digital signage play a role in finding a solution and make the failure forgotten?

Siren as a historical relic

The siren has been considered outdated for decades and is a relic of the Cold War. Due to negligent perception of danger it slowly disappears from the roofs of town halls, fire stations and hospitals.  Over the years, it has also often been removed during renovation work, which – understandably – has led to criticism from civil protection experts.

There is no nationwide central warning system to wake up the population in case of an emergency, as maintenance of the installations was not taken seriously in the past. The result: overgrown sirens that are increasingly not triggered. The issue of disaster control in Germany is a matter for the individual federal states, which makes it even more difficult to maintain a functioning warning network. Some federal states have completely dismantled sirens, other states have installed new systems or repaired old ones due to flood emergencies. There is no uniform line and consequently no uniform coverage of all urban areas with (early) warning systems.

Mobile warning systems

The technologies for otherwise regulated and reliable hazard warning exist but are not yet available. In other nations, where natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis are a more acute problem than in this country, warning systems already exist that use mobile phone networks for their own purposes. All devices located in a certain area are warned via cell broadcast. The advantage of a mobile warning system is obvious: with a simple message, all persons can be warned and furthermore, the situation and rules of behaviour can be explained. Such functions are also planned in Germany, but as is often the case, data protection makes their use more difficult.

It is not that there are not already apps for disaster control in Germany, but during the test last week, various warning apps failed in many regions. First error analysis: The modular warning system failed due to overload. Corresponding causes must be clarified in further investigations. One point of criticism is the lack of reliability, as an app strategy can never cover all people. There are still people who have a smartphone with an uncharged battery or no mobile device at all. But this must be exactly what disaster control is all about: To warn all persons of danger and provide assistance in finding safe areas.

Have you noticed it? In Germany, signalling systems and warning apps for disaster situations were tested across the country on 10 September – conclusion: a catastrophe. The test revealed that the warning system still has too many errors at various levels and that the state governments will have to do a lot of follow-up work. We ask ourselves: Can digital signage play a role in finding a solution and make the failure forgotten?

Siren as a historical relic

The siren has been considered outdated for decades and is a relic of the Cold War. Due to negligent perception of danger it slowly disappears from the roofs of town halls, fire stations and hospitals.  Over the years, it has also often been removed during renovation work, which – understandably – has led to criticism from civil protection experts.

There is no nationwide central warning system to wake up the population in case of an emergency, as maintenance of the installations was not taken seriously in the past. The result: overgrown sirens that are increasingly not triggered. The issue of disaster control in Germany is a matter for the individual federal states, which makes it even more difficult to maintain a functioning warning network. Some federal states have completely dismantled sirens, other states have installed new systems or repaired old ones due to flood emergencies. There is no uniform line and consequently no uniform coverage of all urban areas with (early) warning systems.

Mobile warning systems

The technologies for otherwise regulated and reliable hazard warning exist but are not yet available. In other nations, where natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis are a more acute problem than in this country, warning systems already exist that use mobile phone networks for their own purposes. All devices located in a certain area are warned via cell broadcast. The advantage of a mobile warning system is obvious: with a simple message, all persons can be warned and furthermore, the situation and rules of behaviour can be explained. Such functions are also planned in Germany, but as is often the case, data protection makes their use more difficult.

It is not that there are not already apps for disaster control in Germany, but during the test last week, various warning apps failed in many regions. First error analysis: The modular warning system failed due to overload. Corresponding causes must be clarified in further investigations. One point of criticism is the lack of reliability, as an app strategy can never cover all people. There are still people who have a smartphone with an uncharged battery or no mobile device at all. But this must be exactly what disaster control is all about: To warn all persons of danger and provide assistance in finding safe areas.

Digital Signage Stelen in Einkaufsstraße mit Alarm

Warning digital and eye-catching

Digital signage can close the gaps that previous measures still have. With large-format digital signage installations, people in the public can not only be made aware of the danger with a signal tone and warning, but also be provided with important and further information on the danger situation. Similar – if you like – to a giant smartphone with always full battery. In an emergency, this can save lives, as people can act more quickly and calmly with clear instructions. In addition, announcements can be made through built-in loudspeakers to announce further action. Another important aspect of such digital warning systems is accessibility. This can be maintained, for example, by allowing deaf people to read all information on the large displays. Barrier-free solutions for emergency calls and disaster control are not yet as present in Germany as in other countries.

Certainly, digital signage is not the panacea for a functioning strategy in disaster control. However, it can be an important building block for good, safe and generally accessible disaster control. A good mix of all different communication channels is important for this. As with other forms of communication, the goal in crisis communication is to achieve the highest possible coverage. Accordingly, the ways to reach the goal are not so different.

In conclusion, it can only be said that although the nationwide warning day has exposed some mistakes in civil protection, these should be seen as an impetus for improvement. Of course, there is great hope that 10 September will remain the only day of the year when all sirens howl all over Germany, all smartphones ring and all public displays show rules of behaviour.

Warning digital and eye-catching

Digital signage can close the gaps that previous measures still have. With large-format digital signage installations, people in the public can not only be made aware of the danger with a signal tone and warning, but also be provided with important and further information on the danger situation. Similar – if you like – to a giant smartphone with always full battery. In an emergency, this can save lives, as people can act more quickly and calmly with clear instructions. In addition, announcements can be made through built-in loudspeakers to announce further action. Another important aspect of such digital warning systems is accessibility. This can be maintained, for example, by allowing deaf people to read all information on the large displays. Barrier-free solutions for emergency calls and disaster control are not yet as present in Germany as in other countries.

Certainly, digital signage is not the panacea for a functioning strategy in disaster control. However, it can be an important building block for good, safe and generally accessible disaster control. A good mix of all different communication channels is important for this. As with other forms of communication, the goal in crisis communication is to achieve the highest possible coverage. Accordingly, the ways to reach the goal are not so different.

In conclusion, it can only be said that although the nationwide warning day has exposed some mistakes in civil protection, these should be seen as an impetus for improvement. Of course, there is great hope that 10 September will remain the only day of the year when all sirens howl all over Germany, all smartphones ring and all public displays show rules of behaviour.