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Emerging Liabilities in Dynamic Digital Signage

May the Force Be With Us!  Indeed there are many days that I wish I could draw from some special “Force” and make everything OK, but that doesn’t seem to work as well for me as it does for the Jedi’s.  The best I can do is to learn from my past and from others who have traveled the path before me.  I want to avoid as best I can, the moments when I have to say, “I did not see that coming.” That is the reason that Robert White, CTS (Lead Engineer for Digital Signage Projects – Unified AV) and I will be making a presentation at DSE in March on emerging liabilities in dynamic digital signage.  We will do our best to use our experience and insights to help you avoid these very real liabilities so you will not be unpleasantly surprised by costly mistakes that can well be avoided.

Some of the issues professional AV/IT integrators need to watch for include:

1.  ADA Compliance.  Yes it applies to digital signage.  And, yes you can incur serious liability fir both you and your customer by ignoring these government-enforced guidelines.  Let me be clear, I am not just talking about mounting a screen that sticks out from the wall more than four inches, which indeed will get you in trouble, but I am also referring to applications like interactive way finding kiosks.  If you don’t design your screen(s) to allow for complete functionality placing buttons no more than 48” high, then you are breaking the law. This has been the law of the land since 1990 and people really do get fined for this.

2.  Permission to Use Content.  You have probably seen the commercial with the punch line “I read it on the Internet, so it must be TRUE.”  Today, more than ever, there is a vast amount of great content available from the Internet, but to use some of this content on a digital signage network without permission can get you sued. In the old days, (and I am reminded by my son, this applies to me), we were cautioned to make sure we footnoted everything and always referenced the source.  Plagiarism was and is a very serious offence. Today using RSS feeds and other content without permission make you equally as liable.  There is a misperception that it is OK to incorporate broadcast TV feed in dynamic digital signage networks, but this also carries liabilities.  It is not expensive and not that hard to get permission.  Note: This is not a case where you should do it and ask permission later.

3.  Line of Sight.  Here’s one you may not have seen coming – line of sight agreements. This does not refer to what a person sees on your screens.  A few years ago I was doing some dynamic digital signage in a Mall, specifically in a food court and I found out that Major Mall tenants at some locations have line of sight agreements in their contract and they take them very seriously. In short, their agreement clearly says, “no signs or other obstructions can be permanently put in place that compromises line of sight with their sign above their main entrance.”  To get around this challenge, we used one of the early generation Holopro screens that allowed transparency.  But the results were something less than impressive and after one year this dynamic digital signage project ended.  Today there are several new technologies that help us address this challenge and provide the customer an eye-catching solution. One example is the new Transparent OLEDs.

4.  Emergency Notification Integration.  I can’t stress enough how vital it is for all professionals selling and installing dynamic digital signage to recognize the importance of integrating the network with Emergency Notification systems. I am confident that integrators will be held liable if your proposal specifies that your dynamic digital sign(s) will integrate with the emergency notification system, but does not work or perform as expected during an actual crisis.  You can avoid this liability by writing a scope of work that matches your deliverables.  Take pains to understand what is technically possible and what complications may arise in making this integration work.  Example…can your dynamic digital signage system be triggered by a CAP-capable (common alert protocol) emergency notification system?

5.  Count Those Calories.  Even though the federal deadline for posting calorie and nutritional information on digital menu boards was pushed back a year to the end of 2016, this remains a real liability and must be considered.  Government guidelines require that the fast food you are about to enjoy contains over 1,000 calories (like consumers don’t know that). This is just the start of how digital signage systems will be used to communicate this important and painful information.  I would strongly suggest that you read about this from one of the world’s leading Dynamic Digital Signage consultants, Lyle Bunn, who recently wrote a white paper on the matter.  Here is the link or you could just visit his web site. Link directly to the article

There are many additional liability considerations and we are anxious to help you avoid them and understand how to write a scope of work that will keep you out of trouble, providing you deliver on what you promised.  The key is making sure you are well informed and are making promises that do not create liabilities but create ROI or ROO.   For more insight on how to ask the right questions to avoid liabilities you can visit our web site and do a digital signage assessment and see what questions you need to answer before you invest in digital signage.

Author Mike White will co-presentEmerging Liabilities in Dynamic Digital Signage at Digital Signage Expo 2016 on Thursday, March 17 from 9:15-10:15am at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage go to

Mike White, CTS, Director of Business Development at Digital Signage for Unified AV, a commercial A/V Systems Integration Company, based in Atlanta with additional offices throughout the Southeast. For the previous 25 years Mike served as President and Owner of Multi-Media Solutions, Inc., which was acquitted by Unified AV.  Mike served four years on the Infocomm International Board of Directors and as Chairman of Infocomm IQ. He has spoken at Infocomm and has been an Infocomm Faculty as Adjunct Instructor. He is a regular speaker at national digital signage symposiums and expositions including Digital Signage Expo.  Mike served five years on Dealer Advisory Board for USAV and two years as Chairman of the Board, published over 100 articles in the technology trade press, served as Co-Sponsor for the Infocomm Digital Signage Showcase Education Stage 2012 and 2013, and as master instructor for USAV Group Spring Leadership Conference 2013 on Digital Signage.

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