The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) has released a study looking at how the development and implementation of smart cities creates opportunities for the out of home advertising industry, and how media companies need to plug in.
“The smart cities phenomenon is creating real opportunities for the OOH industry,” the report says. “As cities embrace for big changes wrought by the digital wave, city leaders are making investments in ‘commonplace’ physical assets: streetlights, traffic lights, parking meters, bus stops, and more. A consequence of becoming smarter creates business opportunities for the OOH industry.”
The report was developed by Meeting of the Minds, a group that brings together urban sustainability and technology leaders. The OAAA issued a press release on the report but it is not at all clear if the report is available generally, or to members.
Whatever the case, here’s the link …
“This report fills a big gap in our industry’s existing knowledge about OOH’s role in smart cities,” says OAAA’s Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Freitas. “These insights point the way to new opportunities, which key companies will be anxious to pursue this year and beyond.”
The report suggest there are three types of connections happening:
- Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Connections: Information transferred from include sensors, robots, computers, and mobile devices. Often called the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Machine-to-People (M2P) Connections: Information transferred from a machine to a person, or vice versa. Referred to as Data & Analytics.
- People-to-People (P2P) Connections: Information transferred from one person to another. Increasingly, P2P connections happen virtually, through video, mobile devices, and social networks.
The OAAA report then urges OOH industry companies to sort out how they’re part of a transformation from conventional to smart cities.
A starting point is to think about how the industry integrates with the four core elements of smart cities: people, process, data, and things.
- People: OOH connects people in more relevant, valuable ways.
- Process: OOH delivers the right information to the right people at the right time.
- Data: OOH leverages data to better target audiences.
- Things: Connected devices and objects (smart sensors) can be attached to OOH structures.
“Cities want to become smarter in ways that make themselves a more attractive place to live and work,” says the report. “To achieve this goal, city planners and leaders are looking for partners to provide valuable expertise or knowledge.”
“Smart city assets that include public kiosks and traditional OOH assets provide cities with an infrastructure that offers compelling applications for city functions,” the report continues. “The aim of each smart city initiative is to connect people to mission-critical information, which in turn helps enhance the quality of city living.”
The whole media company-smart city thing has so far left me ambivalent. Arguably the highest profile project, to date, is the LinkNYC rollout in New York – which can easily be argued exists almost entirely as a mechanism to get a lot of digital posters out there. What I’ve seen – when they’re working – is not all that inspiring or useful – though tourists do like their free WiFi.
There are huge possibilities for smart cities, but those possibilities are with sensors and connected devices and real-time data, not with digital OOH media campaigns. Smart cities are about power grids and health care and mass transport and on and on.
On the other hand, something or someone has to pay for these things, and I’d imagine in a lot of U.S. cities taxpayers would rather see city governments investing in school and road repairs than smart city kiosks. It’s hard to say no when a media company says it will put stuff in for free (and oh by the way, there will be ads).
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.