When it comes to placing digital displays inside or outside, severe weather, theft, and impact damage are some of many potential threats. Wayfinding, flight information, customer service, ad income, and runway-side digital displays streaming updates for runway staff are some of the ways indoor and outdoor digital signage is catapulting airport operations light-years ahead. However, do displays stand up to vandalism or severe weather like hurricanes? Sadly, most don’t! Sure, the 1980s movie, Airplane, was funny, but nobody wants their digital display boards to end up damaged and twisted like the pretzeled airplane on that movie cover. Cost-effective, durable indoor and outdoor digital signage enclosures are becoming popular signage protection solutions for airports.
The Rise of Indoor and Outdoor Digital Signage for Airports
Indoor and outdoor digital signage makes a world of difference in front of or inside of airports assisting with wayfinding, providing passengers information like flight times, communicating emergency messaging, or displaying ads for additional income. Runway-side digital displays and flight boards stream live information for baggage workers and runway staff. Clearly, indoor and outdoor weatherproof digital signage is significantly benefiting the effectiveness of airport operations and visitor experience.
However, outdoor digital display prices are sky high and they aren’t equipped for certain applications, such as high theft or vandalism risk environments or severe weather conditions like hurricanes. Fortunately, protective digital display enclosures paired with indoor displays are an affordable and popular alternative. Rather than high cost outdoor displays that have limited features, enclosures enable businesses to choose whichever display they prefer to place outside, which can be a huge money saver. Or enclosures allow companies to pick the latest indoor displays with all the wonderful newest features and protect that investment. With versatile solutions like portrait and landscape options, touch screens, and sizes up to 85 inches, enclosures today have numerous benefits.
Airport Digital Signage Threats and Enclosure Solutions
Cops and Robbers
Well, cops probably aren’t a threat. That saying just has a great ring to it. However, robbers have certainly been known to take off with pricey equipment at airports. Of course, vandalism is a big issue for digital signage as well, especially outdoor digital display solutions. Be it spray paint, thrown objects, or theft, digital signs in high traffic indoor locations or left outdoors need to be protected from people as much as they need protection from the elements. Enclosures featuring dual chambered key lock systems and lock kits for mounts that secure displays to the wall offer optimum protection.
For indoor use, many businesses also favor options like a low-cost frame display enclosure. Rather than an enclosure with a back, this enclosure is a frame that bolts to the wall using heavy duty mounting hardware, while the enclosure attaches to the base frame using a high strength security screw system for the ultimate defense against removal from the wall. So, this is an open back design. These display frames feature .177" thick ultra-clear shatterproof polycarbonate for the front shield and a .25" thick aluminum front frame. These protective digital display enclosures hold up in the roughest and toughest environments including federal correctional institutions.
Weather, Storms, and Impact Resistance
Placing a digital sign outside is extremely different from placing one inside. Weather factors, such as heat, cold, rain, storms, and moisture all come into play. Outdoor digital displays defend in some capacity against some of these threats, but don’t offer complete comprehensive protection and typically have an astoundingly higher price tag than indoor digital displays. When the weather really does its thing, especially hurricane weather, most outdoor displays are toast. This means airports choosing outdoor digital displays pay big money and end up completely replacing displays.
Thankfully, extremely durable outdoor digital signage enclosures can provide impact resistance strong enough to defend against high impact like a forceful hit from a bat, flying objects, and hurricane winds. At the end of the day, when facing the worst category storms that tear up and relocate buildings, not much can be done. But enclosures provide exceptional protection. Think of them as an Otterbox for TVs and digital displays. Even if the front screen of the enclosure is scratched or dented, front shields cost peanuts to replace.
Outdoor digital signage enclosure companies worth their salt have developed viable solutions for various outdoor weather challenges, such as fan systems, heater install options, water-resistant sealing technologies, corrosion resistance and even moisture control kits that help absorb moisture which would otherwise seep inside the monitors and cause damage. Typically, an application in extreme heat or cold requires a significantly higher cost weatherproof digital sign because upgraded fan, heating and insulation features are required in those situations. While the look of a standalone display can be nice, those features are expensive to build into electronic equipment. On the other hand, the cost of an enclosure with all the bells and whistles for extremely harsh environments is significantly less than an outdoor digital display.
Additionally, coastal airports and businesses frequently deal with corrosion, which forces them to replace equipment such as outdoor displays and TVs on a frequent basis, which increases the overall net cost of outdoor digital signage. Most outdoor digital signs and digital monitor enclosures are composed of metal, which corrodes rather easily. Outdoor engineered plastic display enclosures are available and often built to provide increased protection against salty air from the ocean. There are also weatherproof, secure, and robust protective "hybrid" design outdoor TV enclosures and digital signage cabinets built with a combination of lightweight aluminum and steel. These enclosures are powder-coated for durability against harsh threats like saltwater air and are extremely popular in coastal areas and even used on cruise ships.
Creepy-Crawlies and Pests
Bugs and other creatures may be a rather unknown or underestimated threat, so people may think surely this issue can’t be serious. In the words of Dr. Rumack, “I am serious... and don't call me Shirley,” (Airplane). Outdoor TVs and signage are frequently damaged by pests getting to wires and frying units or grime accumulating in vents. From bugs burrowing inside of, or eating, electronic components, to birds nesting on units, many creatures pose a threat to digital displays placed outside.
Enclosures placed over outdoor displays eliminate these problems. The Sound & Communications article, Ditch the Critters & Crud, mentions one University’s hunt for water resistant digital signage to withstand wash-downs so they could be kept clean despite nesting birds. The University was looking to place a large bulk order, so pricing was an even bigger consideration. For that application, The Display Shield enclosures were chosen as a perfect solution because the enclosures are sealed tight to protect displays from water damage and offered about a half a million dollars in savings over standard outdoor weatherproof signage solutions.
Glare is a sensitive topic in the outdoor digital signage industry because it’s quite an obstacle in some applications. Digital signs placed in direct sun often reflect the light, creating disruptive glare across the display. For airports looking to place commercial digital signs in direct sun, weatherproof digital signage providers are working to offer the best possible solutions and most up-to-date technology.
Many outdoor digital displays use anti-reflective glass, which almost eliminates glare when viewing the screen from the front. However, the glass is not built to withstand high impact in harsher storms or environments. On the other hand, the best modern digital display enclosures offer guaranteed not to crack, thick, shatterproof antiglare front shields for a clear view of the screen inside. Any time digital displays are placed outside, they do best in sunlight when adjusted to the highest setting for screen brightness. High-nit screens provide the best performance. However, in some rare cases off-axis viewing clarity is still lacking. Investing in a larger display reduces the effects of the off-axis viewing issue.
Needs and use of digital signage are expected to continue growing in coming years. Keeping up with the trend and staying in the game with competitors will be crucial for keeping operations smooth and avoiding turbulence. Robbers, hurricanes, and the other threats above have been put to shame with enclosure solutions.
Emilyann Allen is the Editorial and Marketing Director for Protective Enclosures Company (makers of The TV Shield® and The Display Shield® outdoor TV enclosures). She is the author of Amazon best-selling books, an artist, and a business innovator. She can be reached at [email protected].