11 Considerations for Taking Digital Signage Outdoors (Part II)

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And now, we continue with more considerations for taking digital signage outdoors:

Mounting

When mounting displays outdoors, outdoor-rated mounts offer special coatings to protect from weather elements and rust. Make sure your mount is rated for outdoor use and use special high-wind rated mounts if you are in a high-wind-prone location.

For safety reasons, as well as for theft reasons, you need to make sure you securely mount the outdoor signage. Make sure to reinforce any outdoor signage enclosure or display. You should always use licensed, professional outdoor-signage installers. Some mounts offer a locking security feature to lock down the display, with padlocks, if it’s not in an enclosure. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Vandals

When a display is placed inside an enclosure housing, there is an added protective glass or Lexicon protecting the display’s screen. If the protection is Lexicon, make sure it is very clear, and does not affect the picture quality of the display.

Besides protecting the panel’s glass display, you need to be concerned with graffiti when placing digital signage outdoors. Special coatings can be sprayed onto the screen, allowing easy removal of paint without any damage to the display’s surface. Some manufacturers offer anti-graffiti, glass-panel protection.

Power Connections

When connecting power to an outdoor display, use a licensed electrician to run the power with a conduit. Make sure to properly ground the housing or display during installation. You will need about 5-20 amps on its own circuit. If using an enclosure with heat and air conditioning, you may require more amps. Check with the enclosure manufacturer to determine how much power is needed.

Security

If you are using displays outside, you might want to keep an eye on your digital signage by adding a security camera. Adding a small camera inside or on top of outdoor enclosure is inexpensive and increases your security. The camera can be added to your existing camera security system. If you use an IP camera and you have a wireless Internet connection, you’ll be able to look in at that camera from any web browser and see who is watching your signage.

You might also be able to record the security camera footage using your signage player’s hard drive, if the processor speed is fast, and your OS is compatible with your security camera software. You can also set up the camera to record to a Cloud service, or another computer of your choice, with an active Internet connection. This would be useful in case your signage player is stolen or damaged.

You may also want to add a security camera aimed at your outdoor display. You can mount it on a building wall or pole. You can also use a zoom lens to capture a closer view of your signage, to see if it is playing correctly. This is a good idea, even if your CMS has remote management features to take a snap-shot of the signage. A snap-shot of the signage only shows what is coming out of the player, not what you see on the display. Having a camera focused on the screen takes care of this. If an issue with your outdoor signage occurs, having a snap-shot from your player and seeing what’s playing on the screen from your security camera, will help you to quickly determine if an issue is being caused by the display or signage player.

Signage-Player Connectivity Issues

When using outdoor digital signage, you need to consider the connections from the signage player to the display. Signage players can be placed in an enclosure with the display, or they can be placed indoors. Signage players placed indoors are wired with Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable connecting to the display in the enclosure. Cable extenders are needed for both ends of the Cat5/6 if the player is placed more than 20-25 feet from the enclosure. Always use conduit with any wiring going to an outdoor display.

You can also use a wireless HD video transmitter to send your signage wirelessly to the display. The HD video transmitter sits inside your facility connected to your signage player. The receiver is attached to the display’s input. This eliminates the need to hardwire the signage player to the display. There are some drawbacks, such as bandwidth, signal strength and interference issues. But this is a good choice when you want to save money on installation.

You can also use a wireless signage player, placed in an outdoor enclosure or housing. If placing the signage player inside an outdoor enclosure, make sure there is enough room to fit the player and it has proper ventilation. Peerless-AV makes a free-standing outdoor weatherproof signage-player enclosure.

If there isn’t any wireless network to connect to, you can use cellular broadband such as a 3G or 4G LTE, or satellite internet for updates and streaming content. Using a cell modem for occasional updates and servicing issues is fine, but if you plan on showing streaming information, you are dependent on the cell’s signal strength and speed, which can drop from time to time. If the cell connection drops, most players continue to play what was last in the player’s cache. Cellular broadband generally costs much more than cable or digital subscriber lines (DSL) services. Use a cellular modem only when there is no other option.

Local Laws

Before purchasing outdoor signage, check with your local government agencies to determine the signage codes for your local area. Most local municipalities have signage laws and codes. You may also be required to pull a permit for such signage. You will also need a licensed electrician to connect power to the display. Some municipalities may not let you use outdoor digital-display panels. If this is the case, consider placing displays in your windows as an option.

Also be aware that even if you can get a permit to put in a digital signage display outdoors, there may still be restrictions on the type of content you may use. Always check with your local municipality to determine if there are any content restrictions for outdoor digital signage.

About Author

David Bawarsky, DSCE, is the author of Digital Signage Made Simple for Retailers. He has more than 35 years of experience in helping thousands of companies use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. He is currently the CEO of mySignageNow, a leading provider of digital signage solutions. He has been a technology entrepreneur throughout his career, creating and managing successful media companies. His companies have won many awards, including an “OBIE” (outdoor advertising’s Oscar) and has been featured in more than 1,900 newspapers, magazines and TV shows worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CNN, BBC, NBC’s “Today Show,” and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” For more information, visit www.DigitalSignageMadeSimple.com

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