By Peter Saunders
In November 2011, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced the deployment of the Digital Advertising and Wayfinding Network (DAWN) at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, which it manages. The network currently consists of 18 kiosk units, installed throughout Terminals 1 and 3, which combine ad-based digital signage with interactive touch screens to help guests locate departure gates, amenities, shops and restaurants.
As a multipurpose project, DAWN has many stakeholders. Clear Channel Outdoor Canada, for example, was looking for an opportunity to bring larger-format digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising into the terminals, while GTAA saw a need to improve wayfinding for passengers.
“There were two initiatives, but they aligned nicely and one unit could address both of them,” explains Sergio Pulla, GTAA’s senior manager of advertising and partnerships. “The project took numerous consultations with all stakeholders.”
“We are pleased with the functionality as a guest-service, wayfinding and advertising network,” says John Jory, Clear Channel’s president.
GTAA and Clear Channel worked with several partners, including Arium Design, Jibestream and Gridcast Digital. Montreal-based Arium designed and manufactured the kiosks, Toronto-based Jibestream developed the touch-screen wayfinding application based on its NovoMap software platform and Gridcast—also based in Toronto—integrated the various technologies together.
In addition, they had to work with many tenants in the airport, who would also be represented in the kiosks’ content. If passengers want to grab a coffee on the way to their gate, for instance, they can look up any cafés along their route.
“While our static wayfinding signs already give passengers directions to their gates, DAWN lets them know more about what’s on both sides of the security screening areas,” says Pulla. “They can find elevators, escalators and washrooms, but they can also use a search function to look up specific products.”
Development of the project began in mid-2010. GTAA researched passengers’ use of Pearson terminals, including the decision points where they need information. And as Arium designed the kiosk monuments, it was important to ensure they would be durable and inviting for people to use.
“Design and functionality followed parallel paths,” says Pulla. “It was important to put the passengers first, to see how they interact with their surroundings. This all factored into the creative execution.”
A single unit was set up in Terminal 1’s domestic flight area in December 2010 to serve as a pilot project, allowing the various stakeholders to check how effective the format would be and what might need to be changed.
“We wanted the units to be useful without being too distracting,” says Pulla.
The pilot ran through early 2011, with discussions of full deployment beginning in June.