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Daktronics on balancing the different needs of transport hubs

Patrick Halliwell, MD Daktronics UK reveals the balancing act between informational and advertising needs as well as the added security complications in airports and railway stations.

How do the retail display solutions in airports and railway stations differ to those in traditional retail environments? Is the approach markedly different?

In many aspects, they are similar, but there are some differences. One example is how the communication medium is used to convey the message. Each retailer has specific branding. In a dedicated retail environment, corporate branding strategies are typically followed with each retailer vying for time on the displays. In an airport or transportation hub, the communication mediums are often also used to inform the passengers of arrivals, departures and wayfinding information.

The successful campaigns are able to balance the informational and advertising messaging to passengers. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) does a great job of this through unique, targeted content and campaigns to customers based on where they are coming from or going to. Imagine landing in a new country and as you leave the terminal you are shown information to excite you about what you can do and where you can go during your visit as well as possibly seeing a reminder of where you came from. Travel is a special experience and the opportunity to connect with the passenger is powerful.

Airports and railway stations are known for the high levels of security; how does that affect the installation process for displays?

They definitely have security concerns. Some tactical limitations include working hours, how materials get to site, where they can be stored, and the qualifications/credentials of the subcontractors, technicians and specialists used to complete the work. In these environments, robust and reliable solutions are needed. Beyond the security and tactical challenges, there could include complex control system and information feed integrations, unique architectural designs and content creation demands that require airports and railways to select more than just a display provider. A company like Daktronics can offer customised services up to full turnkey solutions for large scopes of work.

What are the additional considerations to take into account with solutions and projects in airport and railway station environments?

One area of concern is Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). Many products brought in through brokers or from Asia may claim they follow proper agency guidelines, but many times this is not the case and even these agency guidelines might not prevent interference with sensitive security equipment and other bandwidths present in these environments. Imagine if people had trouble with cellular service or security personnel couldn’t communicate in these environments. It would cause problems that aren’t acceptable. Another thing to take into account is reliability. Proven products with preventative diagnostics can allow the airport or railway to understand the health of their displays and proactively deploy service. These venues can’t afford to have the displays breaking down, so again it is critical to partner with the right vendor; not just a low cost provider or broker through any local integrator.

Is the displays market in this environment more competitive than many others at the moment? If so, how do you stand out?

It is competitive, but not to say any more than other markets. We are fortunate to be in a growing industry with digital. Daktronics has a dedicated focus in Europe and transportation with our factories in Ireland and Belgium, as well offices/teams in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, France, Germany and Spain. Our value proposition to customers is to win them over for life, just not the lifetime of their displays. This why venues such as Piccadilly Lights, LAX, Swiss Rail (SBB), multiple sports teams and others choose to partner with us. The Daktronics experience is like no other.

Tell us about a recent installation project that highlights Daktronics’ expertise in the transportation sector.

From 2014 through 2018, Daktronics has and will be installing a total of 50 LED video displays across 17 stations throughout Switzerland for Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB), Switzerland’s largest travel and transport company. The project improved upon the existing flip-digit displays to LED digital displays. This allows for more advertising opportunities in conjunction with upgraded aesthetics for showing train schedules and other travel information. In addition to the flexibility of content, these displays are easier to control and service while providing clear, visible information to customers.