Results and Advice
Since the emergency notification system was set up, there has been an average of less than one emergency alerts issued per year, according to Graham. “One was during the earthquake of August, 2011, and in 2012, there was a weather alert due to a big snow and ice storm coming in, which ended up shutting things down.”
Graham also notes, “We test the system quarterly, similar to what you hear on broadcast radio stations. And for both tests and live events we debrief afterwards, look at the time and whether it worked and were any issues.”
There’s no direct ROI calculation for digital signage either for its daily info-loops or for its rare emergency notification involvement. “For the daily feeds, there’s no doubt that using digital signage is both less expensive and more responsive than physical bulletin boards or signs,” Graham says. “A given display recoups its investment within the equivalent of what would otherwise have been three or four printed-sign changes… and the digital content can be updated within seconds to minutes, versus hours to days or even weeks to plan, print and distribute hardcopy signage.”
As for the costs of issuing emergency notifications, which are negligible on the digital signage, Graham notes (taking up less than half an hour per test or alert), “It’s part of the cost of supporting the community. And places like WVU are expected to have a system like this, you can’t afford to not have one in place.”
What advice does Graham have for other institutions still setting up emergency notification as part of a digital signage deployment?
“You need to do your homework, identify the best software. Consider your budget, and your commitment. Identify major scenarios, prepare templates. Do periodic testing, not just to make sure everything is working, but also because seeing these tests re-assures people that there is an alert system in place. And don’t over-issue alerts.