The role of dynamic signage in the airport information economy

As Arthur D. Little wrote in a paper on the digital transformation of airports for Amadeus: “By leveraging existing flight information display system (FIDS) infrastructure as an additional means to drive the in-airport retail offer, airports can achieve incremental revenue growth for only a moderate investment in existing infrastructure. This would see the role of FIDS change from flight information provider to multi-faceted marking tool.”

In addition to the direct ROI airports can collect through ad sales, dynamic signage has another advantage. According to research by J.D. Power & Associates, the mood of a traveller at an airport is correlated with the amount of money they spend there. While uninformed passengers will tend to crowd public spaces, disturb employees, spend less money, and leave with a sour attitude, well-informed passengers will proceed confidently through high-traffic areas and behave calmly and decisively in the face of unexpected variables. Such passengers are also likely to relax and indulge in paid airport experiences such as restaurants, retail stores, etc.

The brightness, size, off-axis viewability of these displays, along with their tendency to integrate seamlessly into nearly any architectural environment make the signage solution a powerful communication asset.

The brightness, size, off-axis viewability of these displays, along with their tendency to integrate seamlessly into nearly any architectural environment make the signage solution a powerful communication asset.

Optimizing the infrastructure

According to Little’s paper, executives across different airports ranked improving operational efficiency as their primary target benefit for investing in digital technology, specifically with regard to capacity enhancement.

Large-scale construction efforts to expand capacity for both passengers and airlines have transformed the terminals of some of the world’s largest airports. In keeping with these modernization and expansion projects, an international airport recently underwent a massive renovation to overhaul its capacity, but took smaller steps during the course of the project to optimize its existing infrastructure. Previously, passengers moving through one particular terminal gathered around a few inconsistent displays to receive their flight information. These crowds slowed foot traffic through the space and often rerouted passengers around an adjacent retail space when malfunctions occurred. The previous display solutions drove passengers to cluster, bluster, and not shop.  In the face of these obstacles, the airport installed a curved digital display so passengers could view information, such as flight details, wayfinding directions, as well as advertisements, from a much broader range of angles and distances. As
a result, foot traffic was more streamlined, thereby reducing the need for airport staff to commit to crowd management and increase the pace with which they shuffle passengers from curb to gate.

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Extracting value from existing infrastructure

Most airports target improving foot-traffic efficiency as a way to avoid costly construction projects. Due to a lack of resources, smaller airports are now turning to dynamic signage as a way to boost capacity by increasing flow rather than size. The brightness, size, off-axis viewability of these displays, along with their tendency to integrate seamlessly into nearly any architectural environment make the signage solution a powerful communication asset. As these displays are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, they can be affixed to unusual surfaces in uncommon locations.

Airports are often cavernous spaces with creative architectures. Dynamic signage easily embeds into these environments, thereby eliminating the need for massive renovations. As Little’s paper points out, “faced with the prospect of capital-intensive expansion projects that take years to deliver, digital technologies can, at the very least, be used in a tactical way to help airports extract the maximum value from their existing assets, especially by enhancing passenger flows.”

Adaptable to change in the moment and over time

Just as airport environments change at a moment’s notice, so too can dynamic signage. Whether it is EVIDS, experiential enrichment, or capacity maximization, these displays have evolved into a necessity at public spaces, especially airports. While some airports use dynamic signage as an informational tool, others use it primarily for artistic purposes. Many have even incorporated these displays as a way to optimize their existing infrastructure, while countless others use this signage solution to enhance capacity without expanding construction. Dynamic signage is so powerful in airport spaces that it is nearly impossible not to notice what it is communicating—which is in fact the entire point of the solution.

Eric Seigler is the global sales manager for airports and transportation at NanoLumens. A veteran technology sales professional with an expertise in digital displays, Seigler employs a nuanced understanding of the evolving needs of airports that has helped him position the company as the leading voice in light-emitting diode (LED) visualization solutions for airports across the globe. This article is based on a white paper he prepared for visual display integrators. For more information, visit www.nanolumens.com.

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