The role of dynamic signage in the airport information economy

The size and brightness of the digital solutions allow passengers to gather necessary information from much greater distances, leaving hallways clear for others to move safely.

The size and brightness of the digital solutions allow passengers to gather necessary information from much greater distances, leaving hallways clear for others to move safely.

Thousands of travellers as well as airport staff pass through each of the busiest airports in Canada every year. These numbers increase annually and, with them, the infrastructure constraints of each airport and the expectations of travellers and airlines. Pressure constantly mounts on airport facilities to optimize their efficiency, enrich the passenger experience, and maximize the long-term viability of their existing infrastructure.

As is the case with any transportation hub, the on-site experience for customers and businesses in an airport is intimately tethered to the availability of communications. The logistics of moving passengers and employees through vast terminals on tight schedules can be impossibly complex, but precision and pragmatism are essential for a smooth experience. This requires comprehensive communication tools to ensure processes run efficiently, safely, and on time.

Many airports meet this objective with dynamic digital signage solutions, using the technology to deliver broadly applicable yet, highly specific, real-time information to large groups of transitory audiences. Not only is dynamic signage visible from much greater distances than traditional signage and can stand out amidst a sea of distractions, it also frees passengers to behave autonomously and enables airport administrators to focus on their operations rather than the needs of individual travellers. Though by no means a brand new technology, dynamic signage has expanded its future-proofed functionality in airport environments as a source for electronic visual information display systems (EVIDS) content, wayfinding, art, and advertising.

Instruction and information on the go

According to a survey by the global consulting firm Oliver Wyman, apart from flight delays and cancellations, frequent fliers consistently cite crowded hallways and insufficient wayfinding directions among their greatest challenges.

‘The Flower,’ a stunning light-emitting diode (LED) display feature, dominates the central gathering area of Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), transforming the space to one of the most highly trafficked locations at the airport.

‘The Flower,’ a stunning light-emitting diode (LED) display feature, dominates the central gathering area of Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), transforming the space to one of the most highly trafficked locations at the airport.

When passengers cluster around small screens to find flight information, crowds grow in size and shrink in patience. Due to lack of accessible information, travellers wander aimlessly and further congest throughways without spending money. These crowds compromise an efficient passenger flow and are obstacles to airport staff, especially in the case of an emergency.

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Dynamic signage helps supply information that far exceeds the demand of the crowd. The size and brightness of the digital solutions allow passengers to gather necessary information from much greater distances, leaving hallways clear for others to move safely.

For example, a North American international airport introduced a 9- x 3-m (30- x 10-ft) double-sided curved light-emitting diode (LED) display to address the issue. Previous displays proved hard to see with limited-viewing angles and distances, resulting in mounting crowds and confusion among the masses.

The new display—suspended in the middle of the facility—outshines ambient light in the area to provide passengers a nearly 360-degree view of flight information, eliminating the need for travellers to cluster around a specific area. While the size and brightness of the display allow audiences to view information including weather updates and news alerts from afar, the curve and pixel design allow easy access from a wide range of angles.

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