High-performance digital signage has become an increasingly common part of the visual landscape in recent years, with video walls enhancing industries such as entertainment, retail and education. Now, a new use for digital signage is emerging, one that goes well beyond shopping, eating and learning. This latest iteration relates to issues of safety, security, rescue and response. Government agencies are increasingly incorporating video walls into command and control centers, the information hubs that sit at the heart of any emergency activity.
Command and control centers monitor situations, dispatch response and coordinate efforts among responders. They also organize critical ongoing activities, such as air traffic and manufacturing. Law enforcement and public safety agencies frequently use command and control centers, which often play a major role in security and surveillance.
Video Walls Overcome Technical Challenges
To perform their functions, command and control operators need to meet a range of technological thresholds. They need systems that can rapidly and continuously display critical information in an easily digestible format. These systems must be continuously available, flexible, responsive and budget conscious. For many in government, the latest iterations in high-performance signage meet these criteria.
In previous generations of technology, a video wall in a headquarters lobby might display still photos or highlighting products or production facilities. These static presentations had some visual appeal, but they could not serve the dynamic needs of a response situation. Command and control centers need ongoing access to multiple information streams; it isn’t enough to hear from just one responder at one time, nor to view a video from a single vantage point. Sophisticated video walls stitch together a seamless presentation of audio, video and other data streams drawn from across the incident. This comprehensive function gives responders critical insight into an evolving situation.
Video walls can deliver all this data in real time, a critical need in times of crisis. Even in noncrisis streams, control room operators need to be able to keep continuous watch, something today’s cutting-edge systems enable. It takes a number of technical capabilities to make all this happen. Samsung has demonstrated several advances in their digital signage solutions. Sophisticated cooling, for instance, enables 24/7 operation. Picture-by-picture functionality allows an operator to view up to four content feeds at once. Extremely narrow bezel-to-bezel widths create virtually seamless visuals across a wall.
As display technology has advanced, a number of other differentiators have also helped define the market for digital signage, both in government and across industries. For example, advanced LED backlighting enables very high picture quality, broader color contrast and added depth. Bright video wall screens today may run as high as 700 nits, or outdoor displays as bright as 2500 nits, allowing for optimal viewing in virtually any lighting condition. Additionally, fast refresh rates up to 240 Hz deliver smooth playback, a critical feature for those who make critical decisions on the fly, and wide viewing angles range up to 178 degrees, making it possible to view content from practically any angle.
Getting Ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)
Perhaps most intriguing recent enhancement is the ability for today’s video walls to integrate seamlessly with a range of devices and data sources. The market for IoT, which refers to a broad range of web-connected devices, is expected to grow 19 percent in 2015, according to IDC. The explosive growth of Internet-connected devices will have profound consequences for the world of command and control. Just as the arrival of sophisticated video walls has taken control centers to a whole new level, now the IoT promises to push the boundaries even further.
Today’s dynamic, vital, real-time content is increasingly being generated not by agents and responders in the field, but by Internet-connected feeds. Smart, connected devices of all types are providing vital information and data that can be pulled directly into a digital display. Networked sensors don’t have to wait to be told what to do. Once operators have defined the video scheme, sensor feeds can automatically populate their assigned fields, delivering faster, more accurate information than has ever been possible. When events happen, sensors, cameras and devices can get information moving in seconds, delivering content in whatever form the operator deems most helpful.
For command and control operators, these advances in digital signage can mean the difference between life and death. Technological improvements, and especially the readiness to embrace the Internet of Things, have positioned high-performance digital signage as the next measure of excellence in the command and control community.