It might not be easy being green if you happen to be the CEO of British Petroleum in light of the Gulf oil disaster, but if you’re responsible for a digital signage network being environmentally responsible has never been simpler thanks to the Screen Forum.
That’s because the Screen Forum, an independent working group focused on sharing best practices in the digital signage industry, released earlier this summer a list of one dozen steps aimed at ensuring digital sign networks deliver the maximum impact with the minimum affect on the environment.
The steps, available on the group’s website, are a well-reasoned list of proscriptions for minimizing the impact of digital signage networks on the environment. While the list is publicly available on the Web and self explanatory, I found one aspect of the Screen Forum’s steps fascinating and worthy of a bit of comment.
Achieving balance underpins much of the list -the balance between environmental impact and performance; the balance between achieving communications goals and doing so in a way that does not diminish, or is sympathetic to, nearby landmarks; and the balance between fulfilling its main purpose and giving back to the community by promoting environmental awareness.
Balancing performance and environmental impact touches many phases of digital signage network rollout and operations. The concept laid out in the steps seems to focus on the drawing a distinction between saturation and sufficiency. Many of the steps advocate doing no more than is necessary to accomplish the desired mission of communications. Limiting the number of computer components, the size of the network and number of displays therein as well as the power requirements of the network seeks to balance the task at hand with the environmental cost of accomplishing it.
Achieving equilibrium in terms of digital sign performance and placement vis-à-vis nearby landmarks gets at the most basic of environmental concerns, namely impacting the locale in which the sign hangs. Reading this step reminded me of the contrast between states that have outlawed, or legislated extremely strict restrictions, on the use and placement of billboards along highways and driving down the Las Vegas Strip. The Screen Forum’s admonition balances the legitimate desire to communicate important messages via digital signs with the need to appreciate the surroundings of the signs and minimize whenever and however possible the likelihood of the signs detracting from their local environment.
Acknowledging the opportunity to use the network -if even only on a periodic basis- to raise the awareness of the public about environmental concerns is particularly fascinating because it recognizes there’s far more to a digital signage network than hardware and software. In fact, the reason for being of any digital signage network is to communicate messages -often finely defined, narrowcast communications. Balancing that mission with the unrelated goal of communicating to the public about environmental concerns recognizes that there’s more to communicating successfully than a well-defined message. It’s almost as if the Screen Forum transplanted the concept of public service TV messages to the arena of digital signage, except digital signage networks have no government-mandated public service obligation to fulfill.
Certainly, there’s more to the Screen Forum’s 12 steps than balance, but the concept plays an important role in the thinking behind the recommendations. Anyone considering rolling out a digital signage network would be well served to check out the Screen Forum’s list and given it some serious consideration.